Ringside: Farmers on a winning streak as demand soars and hoggets hit €6/kg
There is always feel good factor during the Cheltenham festival, invariably helped by the efforts of Irish jockeys.
However, it is sheep farmers that have real reason to feel good this week as prices for hoggets hit the €6/kg mark. This is very positive news for a sector that has experienced much more disappointing days than good ones. I got a few calls over the weekend from farmers selling and being offered €5.90-6.00 with 23.5-24kg being mentioned as target carcass weights.
Those achieving it to 24kg are getting a gross price of €144, which is the first time since April 2011 that this sort of money has been paid for for hoggets going to the factory. Despite a significant rise, the quotes in the table fall well short of the actual prices being paid.
The difference is whether you bargain hard or not. The difference between a soft seller accepting a lower quote of 565c/kg plus the 6c/kg on 23.5kg is €10 less than what the tough seller is negotiating. Factories are extremely anxious for stock, so farmers' hold the aces for now.
A 30c/kg rise moves them up to a base of €5.70/kg plus 10c/kg for quality assured (QA) hoggets. The ICMs and Kepak Athleague are each up by 25c/kg to a base of €5.65/kg with the two ICM plants offering a 10c/kg QA top-up, while Kepak are paying a 6c/kg bonus for á stock. Moyvalley are quoting €5.70/kg all-in.
Kepak Athleague were also quite anxious to point out that they will be buying new season light lambs next week with a carcass range of 9-13.5kg. The price being mentioned is €7.50/kg, which at the top weight would run into €100. There is a market for these light carcasses in Belgium, Germany and France.
The 10c/kg bonus for QA ewes is also keeping Kildare tops for the cull ewes as they fall in with the two ICMs on a base of €3.30/kg. Kepak Athleague are offering €3.20/kg. Farmers with numbers to sell are securing up to 20c/kg above these figures.
Cumulative supplies for the year to date are currently 6pc behind last year's levels.
The positive movement at the factories has fed into the mart trade with the prices continuing to rise throughout the week. Judging by yesterday's sales, it could get even better. A top price with the weight of €96 was paid in Fermoy when a pen of twelve hoggets weighing 54kg sold for €150. A few other heavy lots made over €90 with the €/kg, while the main run of prices ranged from €80-90 over the weight.
Prices for the butcher type hogget in Athenry varied from €75-90 over the weight, with €141 paid for 51kg, while the top price of €145 was paid for two different pens weighing 57kg and 58kg. Lighter lots in both places were selling for €60-75 over generally. A range from €60-150 was buying the majority of the cull ewes.
Carnew had a bigger sale of 2,400 sheep. Fleshed sheep were up by €10-12/hd, with all other classes up by €5-7/hd. Hoggets over 50kg sold for €130-144. The 45-50kg lots made from €125-138. Store prices varied from €85-120. Heavy, well-fleshed cull ewes ranged from €130-164, while the lighter types made from €65-130. Ewes with lambs at foot ranged from €140-250.
Mountbellew had a large number of sheep on offer. Hoggets met with an improved trade, as did in-lamb ewes and ewes with lambs at foot. Cull ewes remain firm with prices ranging from €75-150. Third and fourth crop ewes with single lambs at foot sold for €210; third crops with triplets for €265; second crops with singles for €188; first crops carrying singles and due to lamb this week for €171; and yearlings due to lamb next week for €150.
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