They say that no news is good news, but zero changes to the lamb or hogget quotes will not be regarded as good news by sheep farmers. They had hoped for a bounce as hoggets dry up and cold weather dampens supplies.
At least quotes have held at last week's levels, given that they fell 70c/kg or €14/lamb over the previous two weeks.
Quotes from the main players are at a base of €5.80/kg plus the bonus. The two ICM plants and Kildare Chilling are offering a Quality Assurance (QA) top up of 10c/kg, while the QA bonus from Kepak Athleague is 6c/kg. Moyvalley are offering an all-in quote of €5.90/kg. While most of the plants are trying to buy at the quoted figures, some tougher sellers are holding out for the €6/kg.
It is clear that the plants are anxious to move on from the hoggets at this stage. Quality is extremely mixed and numbers are small. Base quotes remain at €5.20/kg plus the bonuses, which is along the lines of the lambs.
The IFA's John Lynskey said that factories will be anxious for numbers as some of the big retailers switch to new season lamb this week. He added that a tops of €6.20/kg has been paid for lambs with hoggets making from €5.30-5.50/kg.
The ICSA claimed that "over-zealous Department officials" are downgrading hoggets to ewe-status in meat plants, with potential losses to farmers of up to €50-60/head.
This is happening where hoggets' mouths are being examined and those animals found breaking teeth are classified as ewes.
A 20c/kg drop to the cull ewe quotes from the ICMs moves them back in line with Kepak and Kildare on a figure of €2.80/kg, with the latter continuing to pay a 10c/kg bonus for QA ewes. Three weeks ago they were almost all on a base of €3.30/kg.
Bord Bia reported that trade was sluggish across our key export markets. In Britain, a slowdown in the trade was reported on the back of a rise in supplies. The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was €5.78/kg towards the end of the week. The trade also eased in France due to poor demand with a rise in competition expected over the coming weeks.
The mart trade appeared to hold up well during the week despite the price pressure at the factories. There was a flying trade at Fermoy yesterday where fit lambs sold to a tops of €102 with the €/kg when a pen weighing 47kg made €149. A number of other lots made from €90-99 over, while other pens ranged from €70-86 with their weight. Lighter types made from €60-70 over. A range from €60-81 with the weight bought the majority of the lambs suitable for slaughter in Athenry.
Carnew had 1,600 sheep for sale. Trade was improved by €2-3 for fleshed hoggets and spring lambs. Butcher and weather hogget numbers are getting tighter by the week and sold for €115-125. Stores made from €90-110, while ewe hoggets moved at €130-158. Prices for the spring lambs ran from €105-125, or from €65-75 with the €/kg. Heavy cull ewes ranged from €130-150, while lighter types made from €65-125.
Numbers were somewhat smaller compared to the previous week in Mountbellew. Ewe hoggets and spring lambs were improved. The lambs sold to a tops of €75 with the weight, when 45kg made €120. The fit lots were making from €60-75 over. Prices of €120-140 were paid for ewe hoggets. Cull ewes ranged from €76-125.