Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Producers pay price after scoring some own goals

Joe Healy

There are a number of sheep farmers intent on outdoing Brighton when it comes to scoring own goals. While the English Championship outfit managed to put the ball into its own net on three occasions last Sunday, many Irish lamb producers continue to let their lambs go overweight and over fat and thereby suffer a penalty to payments.

There is no excuse for allowing this to happen with the buoyant trade throughout the entire season. With feed-costs so expensive, the farmer has to realise that he is losing out on the double by also incurring a penalty for lambs that just have not been slaughtered when they were suitable.

The difference in price between grade one Irish lambs and grade two lambs going to France is between 50-60c/kg at the moment. It is noticeable this year that the factories are sticking much more rigidly to the maximum weight of 23.5kg compared to their willingness down through the years to increase this somewhat.

Some plants are, without doubt, making a fair effort to pull quotes slightly. Four out of the seven have reduced by 5-10c/kg since this day week. The ICMs have hit hardest with a drop of 10c/kg to a base quote of 510c/kg plus 6c/kg.

Despite this, however, reports doing the rounds yesterday morning were suggesting that some of the top prices being paid were coming from the southeast. Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kildare are back by 5c/kg to 515c/kg plus the bonus and in Kildare's case the extra 5c/kg for quality assured stock.

With no change from the Kepak plants, Hacketstown and Athleague remain on base figures of 520c/kg and 525c/kg respectively plus the 5c/kg. Moyvalley hold onto top spot with their unchanged all-in figure of 530c/kg.

The IFA's James Murphy said that despite some of the plants offering lower quotes, they are still having to and willing to pay up to 540c/kg to secure adequate supplies.

Kildare Chilling, while still setting the pace in the cull ewes at 310c/kg are back by 10/kg. The drop is similar from Dawn. This leaves them quoting 290c/kg and level with both Kepak's. The ICM plants remain at 300c/kg.

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In the UK, trade has eased despite ongoing tight supplies being evident combined with little change in the exchange rate. By the weekend, live market prices across Great Britain were the equivalent of €5.58/kg including VAT for lambs. Lamb prices in Northern Ireland are the equivalent of 545c/kg. The LMC have said that for the three weeks up to February 11 exports of lamb from the North to the South were down 25pc compared to 12 months ago.

In France, trade remains solid, with limited numbers of Irish grade 1 lamb still reportedly making up to €5.87/kg inclusive of VAT for most of the week.

The livestock survey for December last year shows sheep numbers in Ireland were up by 199,000hd (6.4pc) to a total figure of 3,321,300hd when compared to December 2010. Ewes over two years showed an increase of almost 39,000hd (2.1pc) for the period, with females under the two years up by 94,300hd or 13.4pc.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the latest forecasts from Eblex some slight recovery in sheepmeat output for this year. The sheepmeat trade is expected to increase slightly. On the back of greater availability of sheepmeat, Eblex expects some increase in sheepmeat consumption.

Projections from Eblex suggest slightly higher lambing rates for this year when compared with last year. This coupled with some recovery in the breeding flock is expected to lead to some modest increase in sheep output to 290,000t for this year

Looking ahead to next year, sheepmeat output is expected to hover at around this year's levels as the breeding flock settles down.

Indo Farming