Factories crack the whip on fat lambs


File photo
File photo
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

For those of you waiting for good news on the sheep price front, I'm afraid all I have to offer today is that the majority of prices are no worse than they were last week.

There are two changes on this week's price table below, which both concern the quote for spring lamb.

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First comes the bad news: Kildare Chilling yesterday morning dropped its quote for lamb by 10c/kg to €6.30/kg plus bonuses.

The good news comes by way of Moyvalley meats, who put up its quote for lamb by 10c/kg to €6.40/kg.

So with all other plants choosing to stick at last week's price levels and as Moyvalley kill smaller numbers, the balance on the price news front for farmers is neutral tending towards negative.

I had a number of conversations yesterday with factory buyers who all dwelt on the number of very heavy hoggets and in some cases, lambs, coming through their doors. They claim they don't want them.

I can understand their frustration to some degree, but the reality is they are finding a home.

Sheep have thrived well this year largely down to the mild winter and the abundance of winter green crop that was about.

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The problem for the factories is that heavy fat lambs probably don't suit their customers, yet they resist the option of offering better prices for those lambs and hoggets that do tick a majority of market boxes.

For the moment Dawn Ballyhaunis, the two ICMs and Kepak Athleague leave their prices for both hogget and lamb as they were last week with €5.00/kg plus bonuses and €6.00/kg plus bonuses respectively. Their prices for cull ewes vary from €2.70-2.80/kg.


Kildare Chilling lead the table on €5.40+10c/kg QA for hogget while also offering the table-topping €2.90+10c/kg QA.

News on the ground indicates that hogget is generally making €5.50-5.60/kg with springs on €6.50-6.60/kg.

Cull ewes in general range from €2.80-3.00/kg.

Meanwhile, ICSA sheep chairman Sean McNamara has called on the Department to ensure all factories and marts have EID readers in place by the 1 June deadline, at which time all sheep moving off a holding must be identified electronically.


1 Blessington

Prices here saw butchers' hoggets sell from €125-130/hd, with factory hoggets making from €106-123/hd. Store hogget made €72-102/hd. Spring lamb sold from €108-130/hd. Fat ewes made €115-128/hd with feeding ewes selling from €67-112/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot sold from €140-290/hd.

2 Dingle

Neilus McAuliffe reported the tops of his hoggets as making €122/hd, as was the case for a batch at 52kg. Light wether hogget saw 31kg animals hitting €67/hd while 60kg ram lambs ran just shy of €2/kg at €119/hd. A small show of spring lambs saw a batch of six weighing 44kg getting the top call at €128/hd. Neilus said the expectation among sheep men was that factory prices would improve.

3 Dowra

Patsy Smith noted an air of caution among his customers at his last sale. Whether this was just the natural reaction of farmers to a factory market that has gone into decline or an indication of some deeper malaise, only time will tell. One way or another the trade was quieter across the board, with hogget seeing a top call of €120/hd.

4 Corrin

Numbers were less yesterday; however, with no positive news coming from the factories on prices, trade here was described as tougher. Butcher-type lambs sold from €114-144/hd with lighter lambs making from €112-124/hd. Sample prices included 48kg at €144/hd, 54kg at €144/hd, 43kg at €120/hd and 44kg at €124/hd. Cast ewes made from €80-124/hd while ewes with lambs at foot saw a top call of €205/hd.

5 Athenry

Alan Barry reported a steady to good trade yesterday with spring lambs selling in general from €125-135/hd, with a top price of €137/hd going to a batch weighting 48kg. Hoggets sold from €122-132/hd, with that top call going to a batch at 60kg. Cull ewes made up to €138/hd.

6 Raphoe

Trade here yesterday was buoyant on the back of a nice turnout as prices for 50kg+ lambs ranged from €130-€154/hd. 45-50kg sold from €125-130/hd with 42-45kgs making from €120-125/hd, and lighter types selling from €115-120/hd.

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