Farm Ireland
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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Lamb Prices: Ramadan effect turns tables on baffled buyers

24/5/2016.FarmIreland. Roscommon Sheep Mart Auctioneer Hugh Mulvihill selling at Roscommon Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016.FarmIreland. Roscommon Sheep Mart Auctioneer Hugh Mulvihill selling at Roscommon Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Niamh Ferriter's farm at Cummenole, Dingle Peninsula. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

THE ‘Ramadan effect’ on the Irish sheep trade gradually increased as last week progressed. It was most noticeable at the marts, where some spring lamb lots were pushed into what John Brooks of ICSA calculated as being €6.40/kg dead weight.

Jim Bush of New Ross mart told me factory buyers were so keen, “we were under pressure to keep sheep into them”, while at Raphoe, spring lamb prices broke into €140/hd territory.

That figure of €6.40/kg is 20c/kg ahead of the reported price of €6.20/kg as quoted to many farmers for spring lamb straight off of grass by factory agents.

The story for the hogget is more positive, with €5.20-5.25/kg the accepted jumping-off point, and rumours that those with bigger numbers were pitching them to the factories over the weekend €5.30-5.35/kg.

Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 9. Average weight 46.66K. Price €125. Photo Brian Farrell
Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 9. Average weight 46.66K. Price €125. Photo Brian Farrell

For the factories’ part, they are maybe a bit like the Tipperary hurlers yesterday morning: trying to figure out how, in a market that was supposed to be well in their favour, over the last week the job has suddenly appeared to be getting away from them.

Prices for spring lamb are up by 10c/kg at Dawn Ballyhaunis, Kepak Athleague, Kildare Chilling and Moyvalley. Kildare just lead the pack on €6.10+10c quality assurance (see table below) from Kepak.

With hoggets, Kepak lead the line with their price of €5.15+6c/kg bonus, which is a 15c/kg lift on last week. That said, it really is nip and tuck between them and Kildare, who also lift their price to €5.10+10c/kg bonus, so at one level the difference is a bare 1c/kg.

While the prices are the prices, it’s worth noting that Kepak are paying to 23kg as opposed to the Kildare price, whose quotes only cover the first 22.5kg.

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The story with cull ewes is ‘as you were’, with no change in price for the third consecutive week. Kildare continue on a top quote of €2.60+10c/kg quality assurance, with the pursuing pack unwilling to close the gap to anything more than €2.50/kg.

Tesco’s recent in-store sheep meat promotion has come under attack from ICSA, who accuse it of undermining the viability of spring lamb production in Ireland, claiming that farmers need at least €7/kg to be viable.

Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 10. Average weight 45.5 K. Price €122. Photo Brian Farrell
Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 10. Average weight 45.5 K. Price €122. Photo Brian Farrell

Tesco has stated it fully funded the short-term spring lamb promotion, while Meat Industry Ireland said all involved in the processing industry work hard to secure the best markets for Irish lamb.

While I can’t argue with the ICSA position in principle, that Tesco price of €8.69/kg has me wondering if it might not entice more housewives to try lamb for the first time.

24/5/2016.Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 6. Average weight 49.3K. Price €128. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016.Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 6. Average weight 49.3K. Price €128. Photo Brian Farrell

Marts Roundup

1 NEW ROSS

There was a cracking trade on the back of reduced numbers, with both spring lamb and hogget making up to €130/hd. It prompted auctioneer Jim Bush to say: “After all the dire predictions at the start of the year on extra numbers the trade has turned itself around. A bit like the Cork hurlers on Sunday.” While the top of the hogget trade was €130 for ewes, the general run on prices was in the €125/hd region. Cast ewes made from €90-110/hd on weights from 70-80kgs.

2 RAPHOE

Everything is bigger in Texas, so they say. Well everything price-wise for sheep was bigger here. Manager Ann Harkin over saw a sale where butchers and factory buyers went head to head for spring lamb, pushing the price of 45-50kg lambs to a top of €140/hd off a €118/hd base. The competition for the hoggets in the 50-65kg bracket saw prices range from €110-155/hd. Fat ewes sold from €60-125/hd, while ewes with one lamb at foot made from €140-180/hd and those with twins ranged from €180-250/hd.

24/5/2016.Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 15 Cull Ewes. Average weight .Price €116.50. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016.Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 15 Cull Ewes. Average weight .Price €116.50. Photo Brian Farrell

3 HEADFORD

The top of the hoggets made €110, with prices for spring lamb going from €97.50-126/hd. The top of the cull ewe market was €100/hd, while ewes with lambs at foot sold up to €185/hd.

4 BALLYMOTE

24/5/2016. Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 15. Average weight 46.9K. Price €127.50. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016. Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 15. Average weight 46.9K. Price €127.50. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016.Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 4 .Plus . 1. Average weight 44K . 54K. Price €116 .€126. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016.Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 4 .Plus . 1. Average weight 44K . 54K. Price €116 .€126. Photo Brian Farrell

There was an excellent trade for lambs with 40-45kg making from €75-87/hd with the €/kg. Lambs from 45-50kg made from €78-89/hd with their weight, with heavier lots making up to €88/hd with the €/kg. Cull ewes sold from €50-85/hd for store types, with heavier lots making from €90-127/hd.

5 BALLINROBE

Numbers of sheep were reported as “remaining small”, while the trade stayed relatively unchanged. Store lambs sold from €74-95/hd while the top of the hogget market was €128; fat ewes hit a top of €131/hd. Among the ewes, second croppers with twins at foot made from €220-255/hd.

24/5/2016. Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 12. Average weight. Price €116. Photo Brian Farrell
24/5/2016. Roscommon Sheep Mart. Quantity 12. Average weight. Price €116. Photo Brian Farrell

6 CARNEW

All classes improved by €2-3/hd and there was noticeable demand among farmers for ewe hoggets – which saw their price range from €115-139/hd, while cull ewes made from €59-124/hd. Among the hoggets, 45-50kgs made from €118-124/hd with 40-44kgs on €108-120/hd, while lighter lots sold from €85-110/hd. Ewes with twins at foot sold from €175-225/hd, while those with singles made from €110-192/hd.


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