Given the choice, factories are willing to up their ewe quotes when it suits to keep their numbers coming and enable the killing floor to stay running at a far less cost than an equivalent amount of lamb would.
And that is exactly what the largest sheep processing group in the country did yesterday. ICM raised their quote for cull ewes from last week's €2.80/kg to €2.90/kg just as they dropped their lamb quote by that same 10c/kg.
Kildare Chilling continue to lead the table on cull ewe prices with their €3.00/kg plus 10c/kg bonus, a price they have held for three weeks. Coming in second are Kepak on a straight €3.00/kg, they are followed by the ICM group with Dawn continuing to hold steady on €2.90/kg.
Commenting on the trade, IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said lamb supplies remain tight at the factories and farmers should not let lambs go without bargaining hard on the price. He noted factories are paying €5.80/kg but quoting less.
Farmers should insist on a price well above the original quote and also demand that weights are increased to a minimum of 21.5kg, added Mr Dennehy.
George Candler says that his trade yesterday was affected by recent factory price pulls. "The reduction in the lamb quotes by factories meant that buyers were less active than other weeks with lambs peaking at €133 compared to €139 last week," he said. The scarcity of grass was also a contributing factor, he added. Prices for butcher's lambs ranged from €2.40-2.53/kg with factory lambs making from €2.40-2.50/kg. Store lambs sold from €2.00-2.36/kg or €70-80/hd while cast ewes hit a top of €148/hd in what George described as "a solid trade".
There were larger numbers here than previously, with lamb prices reported as being easier. Samples included 15 lambs at 42kg making €98/hd, 10 at 41.5kg making €95/hd, while in 39-39.5kg, lambs sold from €90-92/hd. Samples of heavier 48.5-54.5kg lambs saw prices ranged from €111-120/hd. Store lambs made from €72-93/hd. There were similar numbers of stag ewes on offer to the previous week, with prices ranging €78-135/hd.
The fact this was a special lamb sale was probably a help to prices here as lambs were reported as being better by between €2-5/hd. Lambs over 45kg sold from €120-145/hd with that top price going to a lot of 16 at 50kg. In the 40-45kg section, prices ranged from €105-120/hd. Store lambs from 35-40kg made from €80-100/hd.
There was a good sale of sheep, and despite prices for lambs easing by about €2.00/hd, the general feeling about the trade was positive. Light lamb from 42-44kg sold from €105-115/hd with heavier 47-52kg lambs selling from €117-122/hd. The general run of cull ewe prices was from €90-130/hd with one batch hitting over the bar at €135/hd.
There was a good entry of sheep here yesterday with the trade being reported as lively. Lambs sold from €80-90/hd for 32-36kg with 36-40kg making from €90-100/hd. Prices from 40-43kg ranged from €100-110/hd while those in the 43-48kg bracket made from €110-118/hd. Heavier lambs up to 55kg saw a top call of 125/hd. Fat ewes made from €70-132/hd.
The lamb trade here saw prices range from €89-110/hd or €2.37-2.53/kg. Sample prices included 45.5kg at €110/hd, 43.5kg at €109/hd and 37.5kg, who sold for €89/hd. Among the breeding sheep ewes with lambs at foot saw a top call of €240/hd.