Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Ram buyers wary of peak market prices

SHEEP farmers are reluctant to pay over the odds for rams. Photo: Getty Images
SHEEP farmers are reluctant to pay over the odds for rams. Photo: Getty Images

Martin Ryan

SHEEP farmers are reluctant to pay over the odds for rams, despite the buoyant trade for breeding ewes.

Prices for pedigree breeding rams are running €100/hd lower than last year in some areas.

Although the positive market for lambs is boosting the trade for breeding ewes at the mart shows and sales, breeders are showing more caution with expenditure on rams, with fewer prepared to buy at the top end of the trade this year.

As the breeding sales get into full swing, the average being paid for pedigree Charollais rams is reckoned to be down by around €100/hd on last year in the Leinster area, while the trade for Suffolks in Munster is holding closer to the price range from 12 months ago.

Belclare rams sold for €300-870/hd, with an average of €480/hd at the show and sale in Kilkenny mart last week.

Shearling rams sold for between €300/hd and €500/hd, averaging €440 on the day.

Mart managers are reporting an overall strong trade for breeding ewes, with producers showing more confidence this year because of an improved lamb market. Lambs are currently returning around €1/kg more than the same time last year.

Tullow Mart manager John Murphy said the trade was generally good for both the pedigree and commercial breeding stock.

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A top price of €4,200 was paid for the champion pedigree Charollais at their recent show and sale, while the reserve champion sold for €3,300.

However, in the general run of the trade, breeding rams are back €100/hd.

"They are averaging around €600/hd compared to €700/hd in 2009," Mr Murphy said.

"I've noticed that buyers are more careful with how they spend their money this year and the commercial ram lambs are looking better value this year.

"The hogget ewes are making €25-35/hd more this year. The general run are selling €160-170/hd for the Suffolk-Charollais cross, with the tops making up to €190/hd.

"But the very top end are slower to clear this year as farmers appear to be trying to spread their money and they don't have to compromise on quality to get good breeding stock without going to the very top of the trade."

Further south, Pat McHugh, manager of Corrin Mart, in Cork, where the Munster Sheep Breeders Association held their premier sale of pedigree rams, said that there was an overall better trade than last year.

"We had 30 rams on offer with very good trade for the Suffolks at €300-415/hd, but the average was slightly down on last year," said Mr McHugh.

Irish Independent