After last week’s slash and burn of between 50-60kg in relation to lamb quotes, yesterday saw the majority of the factory representatives I spoke with predicting a possible improvement in prices as this week goes on.
“That’s not definite,” was the rider quickly added, however. Asked how the trade was at the sales-end, various phrases were used by factory agents, some of them printable, some less so. Those printable generally took the guise of: “Difficult, but we’ll see how the week develops.”
There does come a time, however, when I do get enough of factory negativity in relation to where the market is at, especially when the entire trade knowns that sheep are wanted to fill orders ahead of some social or religious event, in this case, Eid al-Adha this weekend.
The worst excuse I heard yesterday in relation to why Eid would not be of huge benefit to the trade was the one I got from a senior factory buyer, who claimed that because Eid was falling on a Saturday, those celebrating would not have enough time to buy fresh lamb after work during the week.
That’s the same as saying that because Easter is on Sunday, those of the Christian faith rush out on Easter Saturday to do all their shopping for that Sunday.
All that aside, factory quotes for lamb yesterday remained unchanged at last week’s levels.
This sees the two ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunais continue on €7.30+10c/kg quality assurance, while Kildare Chilling maintain their price at €7.40+10c/kg QA.
The only major changes involve Kildare and their decision to not quote for either cull ewes or hoggets. This would seem to indicate they intend to concentrate on lambs this week, which would be entirely understandable if they have good contracts around Eid.
Given that all other plants on our price table stopped quoting for hoggets some time ago, it’s quite possible we’ve now also seen the last of Kildare’s official hogget quotes.
Although Kildare offered no guidance in relation to culls, the two ICMs continued on €4.00/kg yesterday, with Dawn also unchanged at €3.90/kg.
I put it to Sean McNamara of ICSA that factories were claiming this year’s Eid trade might not be as good for lambs as other years. His reply was distinct: “If they’re saying the trade is s****, why do they want so many of them?”
A damn good question and one backed up by the facts from marts all across the country, where prices for lambs were reported to be stronger by between €5-€6/hd in the second half of last week and yesterday.
However, as pointed out by David Quinn of Carnew: “Those selling are only getting back that €5-€6/hd because of Eid and because prices fell two weeks ago by €10/hd.”
On the price side, Mr McNamara reported groups as operating off bases of €7.40/kg, which, with bonuses, was giving returns of €7.70-€7.80/kg.
However, IFA’s Kevin Comiskey reckoned the top of factory trade for lambs was somewhere from €7.50-€7.60/kg, while also reporting cull ewes as selling to €4.30/kg.
A big sale of 1,800 sheep saw David Quinn reflect that after a fall of around €100/hd two weeks ago, his prices recovered €3-€4/hd of that loss last week.
Prices for 45-50kg lambs typically averaged €155-€165/hd, with wholesalers pushing some to €170/hd, while averages for those from 40-45kgs ranged from €140-€160/hd. On the store side, 35kg lambs sold from €105-€120/hd, with 30-33kgs averaging €90-€100/hd.
Hogget ewes sold from €180-€250/hd, with older ewes making from €170-€200hd. Among the culls, 70-80kg ewes sold from €140-€170/hd, with a top call seeing 100kgs make €255. Quinn expects the number of stores on offer to increase considerably over the next two to three weeks.
Neilius McAuliffe saw his numbers double from this time last year with 780 on offer. Fit lambs saw 44kg top out at €145/hd, with the general run of fat lambs selling from €3.25-€3.30/kg.
On the store side, with plenty of buyers keen, prices for 33-35kg ranged from €103-€110/hd or around the €3.00/kg mark. Cull ewes sold from €80-€155/hd averaging €1.80/kg.
Yesterday’s sale saw numbers up slightly at 500, with George Candler noting that while the trade was broadly similar to last week, “it was sharper in places”, with top call seeing five 58kg lambs average €177/hd.
Prices in this section worked off a base €158/hd, giving an overall spread of €3.10-€3.43/kg On the factory side, prices ranged from €130-€160/hd or €3.20-€3.48/kg. Cull ewes sold from €90-€250/hd.
Patsy Smith reported a bigger sale, with 1,000 on offer, noting that both shippers and factory buyers were very keen and helped prices for lambs to improve by between €5-€6/hd.
Top call on the lamb side saw seven 50kg animals make up to €172/hd or €3.44/hd. In the 46-47kg section, prices ranged from €160.50-€165/hd, topping out at €3.59/kg for 20 46kg lambs. Prices for quality lambs in the 43-45kg section ranged from €154.50-€160/hd.
Samples among the hoggets included 11 at 49kg, €170/hd, 10 at 58kg, also €170/hd, with five ewe/rams at 92.5kg making €185/hd. Cull ewes sold to a top of €185/hd, while two ewes with four lambs at foot reached €204/unit.
David Faulken also noted that although not overly big at 550, sheep prices for 45-50kg lambs improved by €5-€6/hd, with prices averaging from €155-€165/hd as again shippers made their presence felt.
On the store side, 35-40kg lambs sold from €115-€120/hd. On the cull ewe side, prices averaged from €140-€200/hd, with two 84kg culls making €234/hd. On the breeding side, four ewes with seven lambs at foot averaged €250/ewe.
With factories keen, prices stabilised and improved, although cull ewes were a little easier, averaging from €60-€180/hd. Sample prices among the lambs/hoggets included 14 at 51kg, average price €163/hd, with 19 and nine at 48kg and 49kg respectively averaging €60/hd.