Factories claim lamb market is 'softening'


Sean McNamara, Chairperson of the ICSA at a recent protest
Sean McNamara, Chairperson of the ICSA at a recent protest
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

While ICM have pulled their quote for lamb by 10c/kg to €5.40/kg plus bonuses, Kildare Chilling remained unchanged yesterday at €5.60+10c/kg QA, with Moyvalley coming in at €5.50/kg.

The feeling among various agents, and those attending marts, is that supplies are have tightened.

While numbers at marts are not overly big that doesn't necessarily translate into a price bonus for producers, with factory bosses all saying that the market at the other end continues to soften.

However, at some stage a tipping point has to be reached where supplies may not match those reduced order books.

The outlook for the week from both the IFA and the ICSA seem to support this. Both organisations say supplies are scarce, with the IFA's Sean Dennehy claiming that factories are having to pay well above quoted prices.

"There is no increase in supplies, and factories are having to pay well above quoted prices to get stock," he said.

"Farmers are getting €5.65 to €5.70/kg, with some top prices of €5.75/kg."

Sean McNamara of ICSA claimed: "Individual factories are offering anything between €5.40 and €5.90 for lambs."

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He pointed out that this in effect sees the same factory paying up to 50c/kg more for lamb to one client than another, adding: "You could potentially be down €11 per lamb at that rate."

The issues surrounding EID refuse to go away, with Mr Dennehy saying the new Department arrangements are causing mayhem.


"Some plants operating CPR (Central Points of Recording) are asking farmers to still record numbers and are blaming the minister and the Department," he said.

After all the hubbub about how EID was going to revolutionise and streamline the sheep business, here we are still writing numbers on bits of paper.

Moving to cull ewes, those quotes available yesterday from the two ICM plants and Kildare Chilling continue to quote €2.70/kg, with Kildare topping that up by 10c/kg QA. Prices on the ground are generally reported to be €2.80-3.00/kg.

The factories continue to depend on imports from the North, with figures showing that two weeks ago 3,383 lambs came south that week for slaughter.

For those in the sheep business in the North, the South is a major market. I suspect there may be more fear among Northern sheep farmers should Brexit turn really sour than among their Southern counterparts.

Will those numbers continue post-Brexit?

While there can be little doubt the poor weather across Europe has not helped the trade overall, I do wonder if we will ever get the balance of production and marketing right.

Or is it a case that if you're a big supermarket, it doesn't matter where your supplies come from just as long you're making a margin?



1. Dowra

Numbers last week were up on the two previous sales held here. Prices were also up, with factory lambs clicking €90-115/hd, with store lambs sold from €70-90/hd. The ewe hogget trade saw prices range from €110-140/hd, with ram and wether hoggets selling for €85-110/hd. Ewes with singles at foot sold for €100-200/hd, while doubles scored €150-231/hd.

2. Ballinrobe

Numbers were also steady here, with the best price of the day for spring lamb being €132/hd. On the breeding side ewes with twins at foot sold for €225-245/hd.

3. Kilkenny

Numbers were steady, with trade for lamb largely unchanged. Sample prices saw nine 47kg lambs sell for €110/hd, with nine at 40kg making €100/hd. Top price saw eight 52kg lambs making €116/hd. Stag ewes were an improved trade with prices ranging from €77-133/hd; however a majority sold in the €100-120/hd range. The small show of ewes with lambs at foot included three hogget ewes with three strong lambs at foot making €204/hd, while two second-crop ewes with singles sold for €182/hd.

4. Tullow

Prices here were reported as being stronger by €2-4/hd, especially among the 43-47kg lamb section. Lambs over 50kg sold from €122-130/hd, with most making €126-128/hd. The majority of 45-50kg lambs sold from €120-124/hd, with the tops making €125/hd. Lighter-fleshed lamb over 40kgs sold from €110-122/hd. A lively store trade saw prices range from €84-100/hd on weights from 32kg to 38kg. The cast ewe trade was also lively, with the tops of the 'heavies' selling to €155/hd and the general run making €130-150/hd. Store culls sold from €30-35/hd, with older types back to €20/hd.

5. Roscommon

Supplies continued steady, with spring lambs seeing improved prices. Best of those lamb prices saw 51.8kgs making €116/hd, with 47.9kgs making €115.50/hd and 46.9kgs at €114.50/hd. Other samples saw prices range from €110/hd for 43.7kgs back to €105/hd for 39.5kgs. Cast ewes sold were a steady trade, ranging from €80-124/hd.

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