Sector still going strong as prices up 5c/kg in week
DARREN Clarke won Northern Ireland's third golf major in a year over the weekend and it has been the third week of steady improvements in the sheep sector.
Quotes from almost half of the factories show an increase of 5c/kg since this day last week.
This is very welcome news as reports had suggested that extra lambs could be travelling down from the North after the lull created by the marching last week. With Ramadan on the horizon, the trade should remain pretty solid for the immediate future.
The quotes table shows no change at the top, with Moyvalley's all-in offer of 485c/kg being matched by the 475c/kg base quote and 6c/kg and 5c/kg bonuses from Kildare Chilling.
However 5c/kg increases from the two ICM plants and Kepak Hacketstown bunches them together on a quote of 475c/kg plus the bonus.
The old saying "Go west young man" does not apply to lamb quotes at the moment because the two western processors are just propping up the table on an unchanged base quote of 470c/kg plus the bonus.
As I have often said before in this column, it is important to remember that those are only quotes and if you sell at those figures you are really not maximising the value of your stock.
Bargaining on price and weight is imperative and was worth €3.50/lamb to a farmer I spoke to last week. He sold 27 lambs after negotiating an extra half kilo and a 5c/kg improvement in price and his hard sell was worth just short of €100 in total. Commenting on the trade, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said that continuing tight supplies were helping to maintain and improve prices.
Many farmers were holding out for and getting prices of €4.90- €5 paid up to 22kg and, in some cases, even a little more, he added.
Quotes for cull ewes have also improved, with most of the factories increasing their quotes by 10c/kg. This move has left Kildare on the top at 280c/kg, closely followed by both ICM plants and Kepak Hacketstown, who are all offering 270c/kg.
Despite a 10c/kg increase from Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague, they remain behind on a quote of 260c/kg.
Only Moyvalley's low quote of 230c/kg ranks below them.
Meanwhile Bord Bia reported that the recovery in the sheep trade recently was maintained over the past week, helped by tighter supplies domestically and declining supplies in the UK. At the same time, a better demand was reported in France in the run up to Bastille Day.
Quotes for spring lambs showed some improvement, with up to €4.75/kg being quoted towards the end of the week. The cull trade remained firm, with prices typically in the €2.60-2.80/kg range.
On a year to date basis, sheep supplies are running 4pc higher than the corresponding period last year as farmers sell sheep earlier in response to stronger price levels.
In the UK, the tightening supply situation and better market demand resulted in a stronger lamb trade as the week progressed.
By the weekend, live market prices stood at the equivalent of €5.16/kg, inclusive of VAT, for new season lambs.
In France, prices for Irish grade 1 spring lamb were up to €5.31/kg including VAT at the start of the week and there was little trade reported towards the weekend. The upcoming summer holiday period is likely to impact on trade in the Paris region, although demand towards the end of the month may be helped by the upcoming Ramadan festival.
Meanwhile, in an effort to help improve breeding, fertility and husbandry, the North East Texel group is hosting a Texel X Factor evening with expert speakers and trade stands. It takes place at Puddenhill activity centre, Moorepark, Garristown, Co Meath on Saturday at 3pm.
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