Factories back to a unified line on lamb quotes

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Official quotes for lamb were easier at some plants yesterday by 5-10c/kg as factories continued to take their combined feet off the price accelerator.

After the two ICM plants pulled their base quote for lamb to €5.00/+10c/kg last week, Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak ­Athleague followed suit with the country's largest processor of sheep yesterday.

This means at €5.00+10c/kg, Dawn are back 5c/kg on last week while Kepak's decision to drop to €5.00/kg+15c/kg sees them take 10c/kg off their quote. Moyvalley Meats top our table with an offering of €5.40/kg while Kildare Chilling were unavailable to quote yesterday.

Many plants have in effect written off two days kill a week in recent times, being happy that they can fill their orders with just three days.

It could be argued that this is to do with numbers, with Bord Bia showing that 303,863 lambs were slaughtered in the Republic up to February 23 as opposed to 343,408 for the same period in 2018.

The problem with that ­assumption is that you could just as easily arrive at that lower figure by dropping a few days kill as opposed to not being able to source them. With the lamb kill back 39,545 and the cast ewe kill running almost parallel to last year at 64,897, I'm inclined to believe that factories are managing the market very carefully.

There had been rumblings of discontent from some that factories were considering dropping weight limits. However, it now appears that those who were paying to 23.5kg will still do so, just as long as they are ­reminded before the deal is done.

The reduction in factory sheep numbers is not restricted to the Republic.

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The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland is reporting that "a smaller carry over of lambs from 2018 into 2019 has contributed to tighter supplies of hoggets and reduced throughput in local plants in recent weeks".

Cull ewes

The Northern Ireland lamb kill for 2019 to date is reported to be running at "43,530 head, or 18pc behind the corresponding period in 2018".

Quotes for cull ewes remained unchanged yesterday at €2.60/kg. The mart trade continues to see smaller numbers of lambs coming out, with several managers remarking that despite those smaller numbers, factory agents appeared at ease ringside as they worked their way through what was available.

This has seen the mart trade for lambs continue to freewheel along, while the breeding season has seen good prices as farmers with grass buy.



1 Dingle

Numbers here were smaller than previous weeks. Scots wether lambs saw 40kg sold to a top of €89/hd, while among the Texels and Suffolks 50kg made a top of €120/hd with Nelius Mc Aulliffe commenting that the typical run of 45kg lambs sold from €107-110/hd. Cull ewes saw 60kg making €70/hd.

2 Roscrea

Michael Harty also reported a smaller sale with the tops of the lambs making up to €130/hd with lighter types averaging around the €110/hd mark. Cull ewes sold to €117/hd. Commenting on the trade and the possible implications of Brexit for the sheep trade, Mr Harty noted that after all the "ifs and buts, we're no wiser than we were 12 months ago".

3 Dowra

Patsy Smith relayed a similar story to the above, smaller numbers but with trade remaining largely steady. Factory hoggets sold from €105-122/hd with forward stores making from €85-100/hd. Lighter mountain-type hoggets made from €55-80/hd. Heavy cull ewes made from €80-110/hd, while store ewes sold from €50-80/hd. Older in-lamb ewes made from €100-150/hd, while those with single lambs at foot saw a top call of €170/hd.

4 Ballinrobe

The story here was also of numbers continuing with also little change in overall pricing. Store lambs sold from €80-122/hd with ewe lambs seeing a top call of €127/hd. Demand for fat ewes saw prices average from €88-114/hd.

5 New Ross

Trade was very steady here yesterday with Jim Bushe commenting that fat sheep were steady while stores were a "strong trade". Prices for fat lambs went as high as €125/hd, however the majority sold from €115-120/hd with lighter lots ranging from €114-115/hd. Looking at stores, samples included 40kg at €108/hd with 36kg making €99/hd. Cull ewes sold well making from €70-120/hd.

6 Raphoe

Trade was reported as stronger here yesterday with lamb numbers reported as less than previously. This left lambs in the 35-40kg bracket trading from €80-95/hd with 40-45kg lambs making €95-110/hd. Among the heavier 45-49kg lambs sold from €110-120/hd with 50-55kg making from €120-128/hd.


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