'Factories are putting boot into farmers' - Lamb prices slashed by up to €12/hd


Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

When goalkeeper Loris Karius, who had a nightmare in the Champions League final on Saturday, is offloaded by Liverpool, I suspect our sheep factories might queue up to sign him. When it comes to dropping things, they are made for each other.

Official factory quotes from cull ewes to hoggets to spring lamb dropped over the weekend; however, unlike Karius's mistakes, the sharp reduction in prices are premeditated and ruthless. Yesterday's quotes saw the value of spring lamb to the farmer decline by between 40-60c/kg or from €8.40-12.60/hd on a 21kg carcase.

Hogget quotes this week fell by 50c/kg or from €11.50/hd on a 23kg carcase, while cull ewes slipped from 10-30c/kg. To compound this, if you add in last week's reduction, spring lamb is back 60-80c/kg in 14 days.

Dawn Ballyhaunis were not in a position to quote for either lamb, hoggets or ewes yesterday morning. The two ICM plants and Kepak Athleague quoted €2.80/kg for ewes this week, a reduction of 20c/kg on the previous week, while Kildare's quote of €2.90c/kg plus 10c/kg for the quality assurance bonus is 10c/kg less than last week.

On the hogget front, Dawn were joined by Kepak Athleague yesterday in not quoting, while Kildare dropped their quote to €5.40+10c/kg bonus. The two ICMs are at €5.50+10c/kg bonus - a 50c/kg fall on last week's base of €6.00/kg.

Moving to the spring lamb, the two ICMs, Kepak, and Kildare all on an official base of €6.20/kg, with Kildare and the ICMs adding 10c/kg in their various quality payment schemes. Also back 50c/kg on lamb is Moyvalley meats at €6.30/kg.

On the mart front, prices moved back by €2-5/hd for the lighter factory types as last week's tightening in factory prices was passed on. Returns from marts such as Kilkenny's Monday morning sale showed that €2-5/hd fall for lamb had morphed into an €8-12/hd cut.

The farm organisations have not been slow in lambasting the factories for these sharp price cuts. Sean Dennehy said they are unjustified and irresponsible when the market is strong with Ramadan continuing for another three weeks.

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"Farmers see this for what it is, an attempt by the factories to undermine the market," he said.

John Brooks accused the factories of "putting the boot in". "A price reduction is often times par for the course when it comes to factories switching their kill from hogget to lamb, but these cuts have really put the boot into farmers," the ICSA man said.

Prices on the ground steadied by yesterday afternoon, with €6.50-6.60/kg for spring lamb reported and hogget in the €5.50-5.70/kg bracket.

Cull ewes, while officially back 10-30c/kg on last week's quotes, are still trading at around €3.00-3.10/kg.

Marts Roundup

1 Baltinglass

Prices for spring lambs and hoggets were easier here by €2-5/hd as the trade took stock of hardening factory positions on prices. Sample hogget prices included 70kgs at €118/h with 60kgs selling to a top of €125/hd. Among the lighter hoggets, 47.5kgs made €130/hd, with 52.5kgs making €107/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot saw a good trade with one ewe with a single lamb topping the market at €190, other prices included six older ewes with six three week old lambs at foot making €183/hd

2 Headford

Spring lambs here from €60/hd for the lightest types to €134/hd for the older lamb that translates into €1.71-2.90/kg. Samples included 43.5kgs at €125/hd or €2.87/kg back to the €90/hd paid for 31kgs, that’s €2.90/kg. Cull ewes sold to a top of €110/hd while ewes with lambs at foot made from €142-255/hd. That top price went for a batch of three ewes with six lambs at foot.

3 Ballinrobe

Similar numbers to the previous week although prices were reported as slightly improved. Hoggets sold from €118-137/hd with fat ewes making from €85-122/hd. On the spring lamb front, prices ranged from 115-147/hd, while among the breeding ewes those with twins at foot sold from €135-152/hd

4 Tullow

This was a large sale, with the trade for heavier spring lambs remaining steady while the lighter factory lamb eased back by €3-4/hd. Heavy lambs over 45kg sold €140-152/hd while lighter lambs saw prices rise as high as €176/hd but with the majority €125-132/hd. The lighter feeder cast ewe made €30-50/hd with the €/kg while heavier ewes sold to a top of €144/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot saw sold from €150 for aged ewes, with a majority of ewes with a lamb and a half at foot making €190-225/hd.

5 Ennis

Trade stayed steady here with the top of the market for spring lambs seeing 10 at 49kg making €155/hd. Top of the hogget trade were the batch weighing 65kg who sold for €163/hd. Top call on the cull ewe side was €156/hd, while ewes with lambs at foot sold well with the call here being €270/hd.

6 Kilkenny

The factories’ decision to drop sheep prices across the board yesterday morning had an immediate effect on the mart trade with George Chandler reporting that €8-12/hd was knocked off of his returns. Butcher-type lambs sold from €120-144/hd here in a tight price range of €2.70-2.82/kg. Factory lamb made €105-116 or €2.60-2.83/kg. Hoggets made from €110-135/hd with cull ewes selling from €40-155/hd.

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