After almost a month of constant price pressure during which lamb fell by up to €1.20/kg or €24.60/kg on a 20.5kg carcase, yesterday morning saw factory prices recover slightly.
Official quotes for lamb were up 10-20c/kg yesterday, while quotes for hogget and cull ewes remained static.
Kildare Chilling continue to lead our weekly price table for lamb with their quote yesterday morning of €6.00+10c/kg quality assurance, up 10c/kg on last week.
This week's biggest mover on the lamb side is Kepak Athleague, up 20c/kg to second place on a straight €6.00/kg. In joint third place are the two ICM plants whose €5.90+10c/kg is up 10c/kg on last week, while Dawn Ballyhaunis also improved by 10c/kg to €5.90/kg
Unfortunately, there is an expectation that prices may again decline once Ramadan finishes up on Wednesday.
In the short-term, prices have recovered as supplies of stock around the country began to seriously dry up towards the end of last week.
John Brooks of ICSA reckoned €6.30/kg yesterday morning was where the lamb price was at, while IFA's sheep chair Sean Dennehy put the top at €6.25/kg.
Mr Dennehy also noted that all factories are now paying on carcases up to 21kg and said there is strong market demand for lambs early this week with factories paying €6.00 to €6.20/kg and top prices of €6.25/kg. He said most factories are quoting lower prices but having to up the actual paid prices to get stock.
While hogget numbers are in decline, there are still enough of them around for all the factories to offer official quotes. Plus it adds further fuel to the fire as to exactly how short factories reckoned lambs might go this week.
As to prices, Kepak Athleague lead the way with their quote of €5.00/kg, followed by the two ICMs and Kildare Chilling on €4.90 plus 10c/kg bonuses, while Dawn trot in further back on a straight €4.90/kg.
Trade for cull ewes sees no change from last week's quotes with Kildare still leading the posse at 2.90+10c/kg bonus, while the rest tag along at €2.80/kg.
The word from the factory offices to farmers appears to be make the most of it because further price pinches are coming.
There are two distinct lines I have heard. One says that numbers will increase and prices will fall before gradually recovering in the autumn. The other, advocated by auctioneer Jim Bushe of north Wexford, is that increased numbers of cull ewes coming through the marts suggest that a higher than normal share of this year's breeding ewes lost their lambs during the snows earlier in the year.
Jim reckons prices might indeed fall back but the reserves of stock are not really in the system to make the falls stick long term. We shall see.
Sheep numbers continued small here, reflecting the situation nationally. Top price among the heavier butcher-type lambs was €140/hd, while €120/hd marked high water for cull ewes. Commenting on factory price pulls, Michael Harty said: “I don’t see the price falling further as I believe the numbers are just not there.”
Numbers also remained small here while prices also dipped slightly. Hoggets made €107-140/hd while fat ewes sold from €70-123/hd. In the lamb section, butcher types sold from €113-147/hd while ewes with twin lambs at foot made €175-240/hd.
3 New Ross
Yesterday’s trade here was “steady to good”, according to Jim Bushe, with the top of the lambs seeing €147 given for 52.5kg butcher types. On the factory side, keen demand driven by reported shortages of suitable stock saw prices average €107-132/hd. Cull ewes made up to €140/hd for the better, heavier types, with Jim reporting that the general run of heavy ewes sold from €120-140/hd while lesser stock made €79-112/hd. Jim also had potential buyers looking for store lambs.
Demand here saw lambs improve by €2-5/hd. Butcher types sold from €120-126/hd with factory lambs making €105-120/hd. The trade for cast ewes remained similar, with fat ewes making €100-120/hd and feeding ewes €68-98/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot were €145-200/hd.
George Candler reported that quieter numbers here yesterday “helped create an excellent trade all round”. Lamb peaked at €155/hd for 58kg butcher types with the base set at €125/hd. Factory buyers wishing to help fill their lairages pushed factory weighted lamb on to a top of €125/hd with the base here €105/hd. Cull ewes sold from €74-158/hd
This too was a smaller sale with lambs reported as improved by as much as €5-10/hd on the back of strong demand. This increase saw lambs over 45kg sell from €125-137/hd with 40-44kg lambs making €110-121/hd. Lighter 35-39kg lambs made €90-106/hd. Heavy cull ewes sold from €118-140/hd with lighter types making €60-110/hd. Dry ewe hoggets sold from €115-142/hd while ewes with lambs at foot made from €160-210/hd.