George Hook thinks that Ireland's game against the Welsh could be like Waterloo all those centuries ago - "a damned close run thing". He could also have been talking about the sheep quotes from the factories today as they are all so close, there is nothing left to separate them as far as base quotes are concerned.
The good news is that they are all up by between 15-20c/kg from last week. Kepak Athlegue are showing a 20c/kg improvement and this pushes them onto a base of 540c/kg plus the 6c/kg quality assurance bonus.
Both of the ICM plants and Kildare Chilling have risen their offer by 15c/kg to also move up to 540c/kg base. These three are also paying a 10c/kg QA top-up on suitable stock.
Moyvalley are quoting an all-in figure of 540c/kg while Dawn were not quoting when contacted. Farmers selling mostly scoffing at the quotes however and refusing to sell at any less than 560-565c/kg with more being secured in places.
Commenting on the trade, the IFA's John Lynskey said the lamb market has strengthened over the last week with factory quotes rising and prices of up to €5.70/kg paid to get stock. He added that the UK market continues to rise, driven by strong demand and the strength of sterling. He said EBLEX reports the latest British price at stg£4.26/kg, which is equivalent to €6.14/kg incl vat.
Kildare lead the way on the quotes for the cull ewes. A 5c/kg rise leaves them offering a base of 525c/kg plus their QA bonus of 10c/kg.
The ICMs are unchanged at 320c/kg while Kepak are also stationary at 310c/kg. Sellers, and especially those with numbers are bargaining successfully for prices of 350c/kg. With lambing in full swing on many farms, it is important to get the culls moved on out of the way and there is no excuse for not doing so with the trade being so strong even for the store cull ewes at the marts.
A number of marts reported smaller than normal sales but brisk demand. This was especially the case at yesterday's sales with tops of €85 over the €/kg paid. This was achieved in Kilkenny when a bundle of heavy well-fleshed hoggets weighing 55kg sold for €140 and 46kg for €131. In the main the 40-50kg hoggets made from €64-78 with the weight while the heavier lots over 50kg were selling for €70-85 with the €/kg. Cull ewes ranged from €70-163.
Culls in Athenry made from €75-160. Butcher hoggets were selling for €70-83 over their weight. Lighter types made from €40-69 over. Prices for a limited number of in-lamb ewes varied from €150-174. Fermoy had 350hd on offer. Fleshed hoggets sold for €68-82 with the weight. Lots under the 45kg mark were making from €58-70 over in the main. Prices for cull ewes ran from 62-134.
Carnew had 2,100 sheep and reported a very strong trade for all classes. Prices were similar to the previous week. Hoggets of 45 - 50 kg were up by €2/hd and selling for €117-128. Butcher types were making from €125-144 with the higher figure paid for ewe hoggets. Prices for stores ran from €79-115. Well fleshed cull ewes made from €130-164. Feeders sold for €65-120. Ewes with lambs at foot varied from €140-250 while in-lamb ewes sold for €120-185.
The sheep trade was similar to previous weeks at Dowra Mart. Ewes with lambs at foot were in keen demand with the younger lots selling for €200-260 and older lots from €120-180. Factory Hoggets made from €100-129. Forward stores made €75-95 with the light stores making from €50-75 each. Quality in-lamb ewes made from €150-200. Plainer in-lamb lots sold for €80-140.
Heavy hoggets over 50kg in Tullow sold from €120-130/hd. Store hogget's sold from a base of €90 for hogget's of 30-40Kg, while hogget's over 40Kg sold from €108-120. Cull ewes prices ranged from €45 for light feeding ewes up to €152 for heavy fleshy types.
Breeding ewes in lamb and carrying 1.8 lambs sold from €145 for aged ewes up to €215 for genuine 2-3 yr old ewes. Ewes with lambs at foot sold from €170 for older types with singles up to €255 for ewes with twin lambs at foot.
Ringside shows the weanling heifers enjoyed the major chunk of the better news at the marts over the past week. It was also positive for the light bulls and the lighter type steers under 500kg. Elsewhere, the other categories and weight groups either suffered a drop or at best held their own.