Farm Ireland

Saturday 25 November 2017

Sector's recovery continues as sheep quotes remain high

Joe Healy

If only we could believe that our economy would follow the path of our sheep sector, then we might be able to maintain some optimism for the future.

Like our country's present financial woes, sheep farmers have for many years suffered losses and hardship and disillusionment. Thankfully, over the past 12 months, prices have improved dramatically from the low point they were at as we moved towards the final quarter of last year and have remained strong throughout this year. Back around that time, predicting a good year ahead for sheep producers would have sounded as credible as predicting a female president in Brazil.

Allied to the strong trade, the Minister of Agriculture's recent announcement of the €8m for sheep fencing and mobile handling equipment, and the confirmation that the €10/ewe payment will happen on December 8, will only further enhance what has been a very good year for a sector that has suffered more than its fair share of disappointing seasons.

The lamb quotes show very little change from last week apart from Moyvalley improving their all-in base by 5c/kg to 425c/kg.

However, this only serves to bring them in line with the two ICM plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis, where a base of 420c/kg plus the 6c/kg leaves them at 426c/kg for the better type lambs.

Both Kepak plants remain on 425c/kg plus the bonus, but the quality assurance of 5c/kg on top of Kildare Chilling's improvement of 4c/kg to a base of 424c/kg plus the 6c/kg keeps the Lilywhites in poll position with a total of 435c/kg for suitable stock.

The only complaint from the factories is that quite a number of the lambs offered are over-weight. If you have heavy lambs, the mart is the best place to go. Quite a few of the plants are also anxious for light, fleshy lambs and are generally offering the same base quote for them as they are offering for the heavier lambs.

A robust domestic market, combined with tight supplies, is driving on the lamb trade, according to the IFA's James Murphy, with factories paying up to 445c/kg to 23kg for good lambs this week. He added that the live trade also continues at pace, with prices of €50 over the weight being paid.

Also Read

The ICM and Kepak plants are leading the way for the cull ewes, quoting 250c/kg. Kildare remains on 240c/kg while 220c/kg is on offer from Dawn. Moyvalley is not quoting.

Bord Bia reports that there was little change in the sheep trade over the past week as current supply levels help maintain price levels. Quotes for lamb during the week were in the region of 430c/kg. Light lambs continue to make around 420c/kg. Trade for cull ewes remained steady, with quotes in the range 240-250c/kg.

Weekly sheep supplies for the week to October 23 were back 2,000hd on the same week last year, at 52,400hd. On a year-to-date basis, supplies remain 13pc (250,000hd) lower.

In the UK, trade improved as some tightening in supplies helped price levels. At the auction markets, prices improved as the week progressed, reaching the equivalent of 412c/kg dw including VAT towards the end of the week.

In France, the lamb trade remained sluggish while the ongoing strikes are also impacting on trade, with demand reported to be easing off among restaurants and butchers in particular. Prices being paid for grade 1 Irish lambs stood at around 452c/kg inclusive of VAT for much of the week.

Irish Independent