Factories 'spinning' tall tales about quality lamb from the North - ICSA

Sean McNamara, Chairperson of the ICSA at a recent protest
Sean McNamara, Chairperson of the ICSA at a recent protest
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

The difficulties created by the beef blockades for sheep farmers and sheep processors continue to linger.

Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis were both unable to resume sheep operations yesterday, citing the need to source sheep and contact personnel laid off during the dispute.

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Both plants are hopeful of resuming operations as the week progresses.

Quotes for lamb yesterday were unchanged from last week and ranged from €4.60/kg flat at Moyvalley Meats back to €4.60/kg (including 10c QA) from the two ICMs, with Kildare on €4.55+10c/kg (including QA).

Cull ewes quotes are also unchanged. The ICMs and Kildare continue on €2.50/kg, with Kildare quoting an additional 10c/kg QA bonus.

IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said: "The trade is stable, with factories paying €4.60-4.65/kg and top prices of €4.75-4.85/kg."

Sean McNamara of ICSA continues to be concerned about lamb coming in from the North. "Factories are putting it about that Northern lamb is more suitable for their markets. That is just pure spin to try to hold prices here," he claimed.

Following the success of the beef protests, where new bonus payment regimes were forced through, Mr McNamara said sheep farmers should look for a review on their prices.

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The biggest issue for years among sheep farmers has been the cut-off weight limits. Mr Dennehy said all factories should be paying up to 22kg. He added that processors affected by the beef blockades should not penalise farmers on weights or specs given that they could not get their lambs away over the last three weeks.


Bord Bia figures up to August 15 show that overall lamb throughput at factory level is back 112,538 on this time last year - 1,602,093 as against 1,714,631 in 2018.

The disruption to the supply chain over the last three weeks can be gauged by the fact that the fall in numbers processed between August 9-15 accounted for 16,675 of that 112,538 figure.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture wishes to remind sheep farmers that the closing date for the Sheep EID tag subsidy scheme is September 30.

The Department is subsidising the cost of each electronic tag by €1 with your first order to a maximum of €100.

The once-off scheme has been in operation since October 2018 and to date has paid out in excess of €1.4 million.

On the mart front, prices for lambs moved around a bit week.

Carnew, for example reported an improvement of around €2/hd for both stores and fats, while up in Dowra lambs were easier by €2/3/hd.

However, Dowra's Patsy Smith pointed out: "Men are into their second, third and fourth draws so it's understandable quality is becoming less and that affects prices."

And the beef protests saw the number of customers at Ennis last week reduced as potential buyers waited for plants to resume operations.



Numbers were a little bigger than recently but Patsy Smith reckons quality is slipping. Lesser quality meant lesser money, with factory types back €2-3/hd at €78-92.50/hd. Forward stores sold from €70-80/hd with the lighter mountain store €50-70/hd. The best of the hogget ewes made €140-160/hd, while lighter hoggets made €100-130/hd.


Thomas Potterton reported good demand for lamb with sample prices among the store lambs seeing a dozen 33kg lambs selling for €79/hd, with a further 19 at 37.5kg making €73.50/hd. On the factory side prices averaged €82/hd, with the top call of €90/hd going to a batch weighing 44kg. Butcher types topped out at €120/hd, for 52kgs. Cull ewes sold from €70-99/hd.


The proximity of the Ploughing saw numbers here ease back, but strong demand saw both stores and fat lambs improve by around €2/kg. Butcher and factory lamb sold from €90-104/hd, with cull ewes making €62-115/hd. Among the stores, lambs under 35kg made €62-81, with heavier lots selling from €76-88/hd. Hogget ewes made €140-190/hd, older ewes €85-155/hd. A special entry of 400 mule breeding ewes saw a full clearance.


Numbers were up. Trade was brisk, with both factory and store lambs improved. Breeding ewes and ewe hoggets also saw plenty of customer interest. Sample prices included twelve 50.5kg ram lambs making €97/hd, with six 44kg wethers also clicking €97/hd. Eight quality 50.2kg ewe lambs sold for €122/hd. Trade for heavy store lambs ranged from €70-88/hd. Stag ewes made €75-115/hd, with ewe hoggets on €150-190/hd, while first-crop ewes made €130-177/hd.


Yesterday's sale saw 500 sheep on offer. Prices for 50kg+ lamb ranged from €105-115/hd, with 45-48kgs selling for €93-103/hd. 43-45kgs made €80-95/hd. Cull ewes sold from €50-118/hd with breeding hoggets making €140-190/hd. Breeding ewes sold from €100-140/hd. Sean Leahy said heavier lambs were "a bit sluggish" but lighter lots "moved well".

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