Lamb prices back as factories gear up for big kill


Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

This week will see one of the biggest kills of the year as factories push more numbers though the system in anticipation of the Muslim festival of Eid.

While official quotes Monday morning were back for lamb by 10-20c/kg, both the IFA and ICSA quoted me €5.00/kg as being the price on the ground.

"Factories were buying strongly over the weekend and paying €5.00/kg," said IFA's John Lynskey, while the ICSA's John Brooks described the lamb trade as "steady at €5.00/kg".

The factories on the other hand maintained that there "are a lot of sheep around", while also stating "that the market has become very difficult because of big UK numbers and the falling value of sterling" and they are cutting their price cloth to suit their measure.

The reality was yesterday morning official quotes were back by 15-20c/kg, while Dawn Ballyhaunis were not available to quote.

On the price table Kildare Chilling continue as the top payer despite shedding 10c/kg from last week on a price yesterday morning of €4.90/kg +10c/kg bonus. Next up are Moyvalley Meats on a straight €4.90/kg which is 10c/kg less than last week's €5.00/kg. Kepak Athleague slip from last week's second best payer into third position this week as they reduce their quote by 15c/kg to €4.85/kg+ quality bonus of 5c/kg.

The two ICM plants seem to have made fourth place their own in recent times and by dropping their quote 20c/kg to €4.70+10c/kg quality bonus they hold on to that position again this week.

Available quotes for ewes yesterday saw their price also being squeezed by between 5-20c/kg as Kepak fall back 5c/kg from last week to €2.60+quality bonus payment of 5c/kg, while the two ICM plants wiped 20c/kg off their quote from last week and yesterday were on €2.50/kg.

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While it's understandable that factories are availing themselves of the opportunity to make hay while the bigger numbers shine I did pick up on a few comments regarding numbers.

Some factory men seemed unsure as to how long this week's bigger numbers would last given that while some farmers had clearly targeted sales for this week others were moving lamb because deteriorating ground conditions and poor thrive were necessitating it.

This being particularly true in the west and north west, where notwithstanding the deluge across parts of north Donegal last week the weather has been poor for a lot of August, with broken weather and poor drying conditions.



Trade was mixed for lambs with butcher types making from €108-117/hd and lighter factory types coming in at between €94-106/hd. Suffolk store lambs made from €73-90/hd, while Cheviots sold to a top of €80/hd off a €60/hd base. Suffolk cross ewe lambs made from €87-136/hd with Suffolk cross hogget ewes making from €140-180/hd. Fat ewes saw prices from €100-137/hd while feeding ewes made from €50-96/hd.


A big entry of sheep, good demand and a full clearance was the story here. Butcher type lambs sold from €107-114/hd for the 50kg+ type with 45-49kgs making from €95-111/hd. There were more farmer customers for store lambs, factory lambs were easier by €2 per head. Strong demand for ewe lambs.


Spring lambs sold to a top here of €123/hd off an €83/hd average. Stag ewes also averaged €83/hd but their top call was €163/hd. Among the breeders hoggets averaged €158/hd, with the top price being €191/hd while ewes sold from €116-160/hd. Trade for rams saw averages of €240/hd with a top of €380/hd achieved.


The trade here has seen very little price variance from week to week in recent times despite big numbers, prices continue to remain firm. Store lambs sold from €68-100/hd with fat lambs selling from €92-118/hd.


Numbers were a little easier, but the big talking point was why were hogget ewes such a "sticky trade" and not just here. Those dry hogget ewes did hit a top of €180/hd but the average was more like €130/hd. Trade for store lambs saw prices range from €52-85/hd on weights from 22-41kgs. Ewe lambs sold from €61.50-71.50 on weights from 28-35kgs, while fat lambs hit a top of €106/hd for 49kgs with the lighter 43kg lambs making €93/hd, the average though was from €70-90/hd.


Yesterday saw a firmer trade for lambs with butcher types selling from €2.05-2.17/kg or €105-120/hd while factory lamb sold to a top of €2.20/kg off a €2.05/kg base which translates into prices of €88-102/hd. Store lambs sold from €1.80-2.45/kg or from €68-80/hd with cast ewes making from €50-110/hd. The only down side was the shortage of customers for breeding ewes which resulted in 2-3 year old ewes making from €100-145/hd, while ewe hoggets also saw their price squeezed as they sold from €140-187/hd.

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