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Rising meal cost dampens hopes of repeat of 2010


I think it is pretty fair to say that the sheep sector was almost alone in not wanting to see 2010 come to an end.

One producer said to me over the festive season that it was the most satisfying year he had experienced since he began farming in the 1970s.

He added that while no fortune was made, the prices available were a motivation to do whatever work or feeding necessary to ensure that you had a suitable product going to the factory or mart.

Hopefully the year ahead will reflect similar returns to farmers.

The big problem at the moment is the rapidly rising cost of meal.

While slaughter plants resisted increasing the quotes to 500c/kg right up to the end of the year, the reality was that little or no stock were bought at prices below this figure. Indeed, top prices of 510-520c/kg were paid in the few days between Christmas and the New Year.

Quotes for today vary from 468-480c/kg but prices of €5/kg up to 23kgs have been negotiated for lambs being slaughtered early this week.

Factory sources are adamant that prices will have to reduce but the IFA's James Murphy said that despite those attempts by the processors the bottom line is that weather conditions have turned this into a very expensive winter for finishers and at this stage farmers just cannot afford to sell at less than 500c/kg.

He added that all levels of the industry needed to play their part and that the finisher who went out and bought store lambs needed to be rewarded adequately for doing so.

Kepak Athleague are setting the pace for the start of the New Year with their base quote of 480c/kg plus the bonus.

Keeping the west at the top, Dawn Ballyhaunis are next at 475c/kg plus 6c/kg.

Moyvalley are on an all-in quote of 480c/kg.

ICM Navan and Camolin and Kepak Hacketstown are quoting 470c/kg plus the bonus.

Meanwhile, Kildare Chilling are offering 468c/kg plus the quality assured bonus of 5c/kg and a further 6c/kg.

Most recent prices from the markets in France (including VAT) run from 500c/kg to 515c/kg with Paris at the lower end. British prices are in the 500-507c/kg bracket (including VAT).

Cull ewes begin the year strongly with Kildare and ICM Camolin quoting 290c/kg.

ICM Navan are on 280c/kg, while both Kepaks and Dawn Ballyhaunis are offering 270c/kg.

With the mart trade continuing to be extremely strong, farmers are negotiating prices of well in excess of 300c/kg for their ewes before they sell to the factories.

One of the first, if not the only mart back in operation yesterday was Athenry.

Good, well-fleshed heavy lambs over 50kg, met with a very lively trade, with prices ranging from €54-65 over the weight.

Quality lambs, weighing 40-50kgs, made from €49-62 over. Lighter types made from €38-45 over the €1/kg.

Indo Farming