From a sheep farmers’ point of view, the year has thankfully started in a much more successful manner than it has for the Munster rugby team. While the men in red were driven backwards in every sense of the word, lamb and ewe quotes held firm.
Despite supplies remaining relatively tight, some factory men are anxious to remind producers that quite a few lambs being offered are overweight. Again, I would advise the men with those sort of lambs to bring them to the mart instead, as demand for lambs around, and in excess of, 50kg is extremely keen.
Kildare Chilling, by virtue of its quality assurance on top of its bonus for the U grades, brings it more or less level with Moyvalley's all-in quote of 480c/kg, which leaves both plants sharing top spot today.
The rest of the plants are quoting a base of 470c/kg plus the bonus. The quote from ICM Camolin was for yesterday only as it is not killing today, but it is back in action tomorrow.
Commenting on the trade at the moment, the IFA's James Murphy said that with the backlog that built up over Christmas now cleared, finishers are finding it easier to secure up to €5/kg for their lambs.
Former national rugby coach Eddie O’Sullivan once famously said that “you are not what you are worth but rather what you can negotiate”. Our bankers would have totally agreed with him, but if you are selling lambs at the moment you could do worse than work off this philosophy. If you take what is offered, you could stand to lose out by up to 30c/kg (nearly €7/lamb) compared with what you could get if you are willing to bargain and negotiate.
In the mart reports, you will see cull ewes made up to €138 at Mountbellew, so it goes without saying that the factory trade also remains strong, with top quotes of 290c/kg on offer from the two ICM plants. Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kildare are next at 280c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown is offering 275c/kg, while the Athleague quote is 270c/kg. Some farmers are holding out for €3/kg.
The sheep trade continued to strengthen, according to Bord Bia, as ongoing tight supplies helped trade. Quotes for lambs during the week rose by 10/c to 480c/kg. Trade for cull ewes remained buoyant, reflecting strong manufacturing demand as prices made up to 280c/kg.
In Britain, the lamb trade picked up throughout the week as supplies remained restricted. By the end of the week, live market prices reached the equivalent of 470c/kg deadweight including VAT.
In France, despite demand being reportedly slow to recover after the Christmas period, tighter domestic and imported supplies are helping trade. Limited volumes of Grade 1 Irish lambs generally made up to 515c/kg inclusive of VAT.
However, supplies are still expected to return to more normal patterns over the coming weeks as more French Lacaune lamb becomes available.