Factories: Lamb prices steady but ewes take a hit


Pen of ten: The Mayo Mule and Greyface Sale at Ballinrobe. Photo: Conor McKeown
Pen of ten: The Mayo Mule and Greyface Sale at Ballinrobe. Photo: Conor McKeown
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

As summer slips by and we head into the autumn, I wondered what monetary value do you put on a year that has given us exceptional grass growth.

From the farming point of view, a mix of fine weather and pulses of rain makes life easier. It reduces the stress of trying to manage stock and it definitely reduces input costs.

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From the factories' point of view, I suspect it doesn't matter whether it rains or not. However the very high temperatures experienced in Europe during July and in August were blamed for reduced sales.

Sean McNamara of ICSA wants to see the live market to Singapore re-opened, claiming that the market there is in serious deficit.

"I've been told there is a serious shortage of lamb in Malaysia, with good lambs selling for up to €500/hd," he said.

An incident with a cooling system for live lambs at an airport in Singapore a number of years ago saw lamb exports from Ireland to that part of the world cease.

The mart trade continues to see increasing numbers, with very large sales reported at several centres. While factory lambs and butchers' types are just about holding, the store trade continues to push on.

Supplies of lambs coming south across the border for direct slaughter dipped last week, with the North's Meat and Livestock Commission reporting a 1,630 reduction in numbers to 7,625.

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With British sheep farmers currently feeding stock with the intention of selling as many as possible ahead of the October 31 Brexit deadline, it could dampen prices here and on the continent.

But with the UK also a strong importer of sheep meat, the question to be asked is, what way will British supplies be post Brexit and going forward into 2020?

In summary quotes for lamb this week are 20-30c/kg behind where they were this time last year, while cull ewes are 10c/kg less but numbers are being gotten through.




While lambs and cast ewes were easier, the trade here for hoggets was on fire. “Our top hogget price was €192, which is up €20-30/hd on previous weeks,” Kevin Murphy told me. The general run of hoggets sold from €155-185/hd. Lambs were easier, with butcher types selling from €98-102/hd, while heavier lambs saw a top of €96/hd. That €5/hd reduction in the market for heavy cast ewes saw prices range from €105-137/hd, with lighter lots selling from €70-100/hd.



Neilus McAuliffe commented that after a good year he is seeing increased numbers coming through earlier than other years. Prices here saw lambs making consistently around the €2/kg mark, with 45kgs making €90/hd and 49/kgs doing €87-88/hd. The store trade was strong, with 37kg lambs making €74/hd, while the same weight ewe lamb could hit €80/hd. Lighter ewe lambs from 32-33kg sold from €74-75/hd. Wethers averaged €2/kg.



Trade for store lambs was described by Thomas Potterton as “very strong” with 35-40kgs making from €1.90-2.13/kg. Factory lamb sold from €2.02-2.58/kg, with heavier 50kg+ types selling for €1.70-1.83/kg. Cull ewes sold for €70-100/hd.



A very large sale with stores possibly better by €1-2/hd, but balancing this improvement were fat lambs, who struggled to maintain last week’s prices. The majority of well-fleshed lambs sold for €98-106, with the tops seeing €108/hd. The tops of the ewe lambs made up to €120/hd. Store lambs from 26-27kg sold from €68-72/hd, with 41-42kgs making up to €85/hd. Heavy cast ewes sold for €30 with the €1/kg, with lighter types making from €15-20 with




This was also a very large sale, with again store ewes and lambs were the main drivers. Store prices saw 35-39kgs make from €71/hd to €84/hd, with lighter lots selling for €63-81/hd. Trade for butcher and factory lambs was steady, with 40-46kgs making from €82-94/hd, while those over 47kg made €93-101/hd. Ewe lambs made €85-120/hd.

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