Sheep: Glum processors pull back on prices

Joe Healy

At present quotes, sheep farmers will have little need for a "double Irish" or similar tax scheme that is much in the news at the moment. The run into June has never been a great time in the sheep trade and this year is following the normal pattern. Processors are not only pulling back base quotes but are pretty glum regarding prices too.

The table above shows that all plants have reduced their quotes by between 10 and 20c/kg since last Tuesday.

The two Kepaks offered a base of 580c/kg plus the bonus, but were keen to point out that this was for yesterday only. Moyvalley, despite a drop of 15c/kg, is top of the pile with its all-in quote of 585c/kg for today. Dawn Ballyhaunis is offering an all-in figure of 580c/kg.

The quotes from the ICMs and Kildare Chilling show a 20c/kg drop over the past seven days at a base of 570c/kg plus the bonus. Kildare continue to offer a further Quality Assured bonus of 5c/kg on top of the normal U-grade bonus. Some farmers are trying to reduce the price fall by bargaining for a 21kg carcase as opposed to a 20.5kg limit – worth approximately €2.40/lamb.

Factory sources said they were surprised by the amount of hoggets still turning up to be slaughtered. Quotes for them also fell, with the base of 490c/kg representing a reduction of 30c/kg since my last report. Dawn, Kildare and both ICMs were quoting 490c/kg plus the bonus. The IFA's James Murphy said factories were paying between 10-30c/kg, including bonuses, over the quoted figure for lambs.

Quotes for cull ewes were steady with 190c/kg offered in the ICMs, Dawn and Kepak Hacketstown.

To date this year, sheep supplies are 156,000 head higher.


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The trade at the sheep marts yesterday was beginning to show the effect of downward price pressure in the factories. As I spoke to different marts, it was noticeable that the main thrust of prices was falling short of its level a week ago, with €60-75 over the weight buying most fleshed lambs. Only some top quality lots made up to and over €80 with the €/kg.

A big sale in Kilkenny met with a €5-6/hd fall in prices. Butcher lambs sold in a range from €55-77 with their weight, with a top call of €134 for 57kg. Factory lambs made from €65-75 over the €/kg with a few quality pens selling for €75-82 over the weight. One pen weighing 46kg sold for €128 or €82 over.

Trade and prices in Athenry were also more sluggish than last week. Having said that, nicely finished lambs made between €105-120 or from €60-76 with the €/kg. Lighter types made from €50-60 over the weight.

Fermoy had a large sale of over 700 sheep. Prices were back slightly but the well-fleshed lamb was steady and made from €60-85 over the weight. Plainer lots sold for €52-58 over.

Carnew had 1,500 sheep on offer and reported a good trade for all classes. Spring lambs sold for €98-132, or €70-83 over the weight. Hoggets made from €105-125. Prices for cull ewes ran from €45-104. Ewes with lambs at foot sold for €80-195.

The sheep trade improved at Dowra Mart last Saturday with more farmers snapping up ewes with lambs at foot. The best of the hoggets made from €80-115. Hoggets for further feeding made from €50-80 each. Ewes with pairs of lambs at foot sold from €160-200 while ewes with singles ranged from €75-165 each. Heavy cull ewes sold from €70-90. Store ewes made from €35-65.

Large sheep numbers in Mountbellew saw a similar trade to the previous week with good demand for heavier lambs. The 38-42kg lots made from €70-74 with their weight. Strong demand for the 42-50kg types resulted in prices of €72-80 over the €/kg. Fleshy lots and ewe hoggets around 50kg made up to €78 with their weight. The rest sold for €60-70 over. Cull ewes sold for €55-100.

Maam Cross had a good turnout. Prices were back. Blackface ewes with lambs at foot sold for €59-115. Cull ewes made around the €50/hd. Mountain ewe hoggets sold for between €55 and €95.

Cull ewes made up to €95 at Tuam Mart. Ewes with lambs at foot topped out at €180. Nicely fleshed lambs made from €2.60-2.75/kg.

Prices were up by €3-4/hd at Mayo-Sligo Mart with lambs selling between €100 and €120.

Irish Independent

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