I was like an Irish rugby supporter in the final minutes of the match against Italy as I rang around the sheep factories yesterday morning, in that I kept hoping for some positive move. But unlike Declan Kidney, I had to settle for a draw, with none of the plants showing any change from last week's quotes.
If costs hadn't increased so much over the past few months, this wouldn't necessarily be too bad, as 470c/kg of a base quote is not a very low starting point.
However, farmers had to pay high prices for stores when they were buying them in and meal costs have risen significantly in the meantime, so a base of €5/kg would be the line in the sand between making a profit or selling at a loss.
Moyvalley's all-in quote of 480c/kg leaves it top of the table, while Kildare Chilling's quality assurance bonus of 5c/kg, added to the normal 6c/kg bonus, added onto its 470c/kg base brings it up to Moyvalley for qualifying lambs.
Elsewhere, the Kepak and ICM plants, as well as Dawn Ballyhaunis, are all on a similar 470c/kg plus the bonus.
Most of the plants say they are paying up to 23kg carcass but there are still a couple trying to stay at 22.5kg. If you are selling, just make sure you clarify this because an extra half kilo is worth around €2.40/lamb. Some factories are willing if pushed to pay up to 23.5kg.
Commenting on the trade, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said that it is looking livelier this week with agents and factories clearly more actively looking for lambs. He added that while certain processors were paying up to 495c/kg to 23.5kg, some feeders were holding out for 500c/kg.
Kildare is top for cull ewes at a quote of 280c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown is unchanged at 275c/kg, while the rest are offering 270c/kg, with the exception of Moyvalley, which is not quoting.
An Bord Bia reported little change in the sheep trade last week, with relatively low supply levels helping to offset a sluggish demand. Quotes for lambs averaged €4.70/kg although more was available, particularly in the early part of the week. Trade for cull ewes eased slightly with quotes closer to €2.70/kg.
In the UK, the hogget trade improved during the week as slower supplies were reported. By the weekend, live market prices were making the equivalent of €4.72/kg deadweight including VAT.