Factories: Lamb prices still a long way short of 2018 figures


Sheep mart
Sheep mart
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

There was a difference of opinion among the farm organisations about factory prices yesterday morning.

IFA national chairman Sean Dennehy claimed that lamb prices had climbed to a top of €5.55-5.60/kg, with €5.50/kg freely available.

On the other hand, Sean McNamara of ICSA was more cautious, saying a top of no more than €5.45/kg was what was on offer.

Both prices are probably correct in their own way, with the IFA price indicative of what some producer groups are willing to do business at, while Sean McNamara's lower price may be an accurate reflection of how the trade is outside of a contract situation.

Whatever way you choose to read it, we are a long way behind prices from this time last year. This week last year the top quote on my factory sheep price table below showed hogget as making €5.80-6.00/kg, which translated into a top price on the ground of around €6.20/kg.

Yesterday official quotes for hogget/lamb on our price table ranged from €5.00-5.20/kg plus various bonuses.

Top of the pile on the table are Moyvalley Meats with their all-in offering of €5.40/kg for lamb.

With the cull ewe, Kildare Chilling head the posse on €2.80+10c/kg QA.

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Both the ICSA and the IFA indicate that culls are generally making €2.70-2.90, with the IFA claiming that a top of €3.00/kg is also being paid.

Price is related to both supply and demand, with factory buyers telling me that the market continues to be difficult.

On the supply front, mart numbers, which are always a good gauge of potential numbers, continue in most areas to be small to very small. There were a few exceptions in the east but even here numbers are not overly big.

Fat lambs

Some factory buyers complained that they are now seeing too many heavy, fat overdone lambs.

The answer you'll get from the farming community is if you're not going to pay us enough to make the job work, what choice have we only to try to get as much weight up as possible?

Sean Dennehy said increased demand and buying for Easter and Ramadan is expected to kick in soon and this should boost the trade over the coming weeks and months. Easter falls on April 20, with Ramadan starting on May 5.

For many sheep farmers it's still a long way to Easter and an even longer way back up that hill to last year's €6.00+/kg for lamb.


1 Roscrea

Michael Harty reported a good turnout of hoggets, with the majority making €115-120/hd, while one batch weighing 55kg clinched the top price spot at €123/hd. Cull ewe numbers were small, with Michael hearing that they are scarce across the country.

2 Carnew

There was a good entry, with trade for factory sheep up by €2-3/hd. Hoggets over 50kg sold in general from €122-127/hd with the tops seeing €140/hd; 45-49kgs made €113-123/hd, while the 40-45kg made €104-119hd. Lambs under 40kg made €80-105/hd. Cull ewes met an excellent clearance, at €65-133/hd. Ewes with single lambs at foot made €120-140/hd while those with twins at foot made €120-190/hd.

3 Blessington

Trade was largely unchanged for hogget, but the trade for cast ewes was "very lively". Heavy hoggets sold from €120-125/hd with stores making €80-110/hd. Factory hogget made €112-123/hd. Fat ewes were €100-128/hd, with feeder types €67-97/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot sold from €175-205/hd.

4 Tullow

Trade was steady with well finished hoggets over 53kg selling from €124-130hd. Lighter hoggets saw 30-35kg making from €84-96/hd, while those in the high 30s to low 40s made €100-110 with heavier lots up to 50kg making €112-122/hd. Heavy cast ewes sold very well, with 88kg clicking €185/hd. Young ewes with singles made €140-185/hd, with a two-year-old with twins at foot hitting €245.

5 Athenry

Yesterday's sale saw a small increase in numbers with trade for hoggets developing well. Sample prices included 58kg at €130/hd, 57kg at €128/hd and 51kg at €125/hd. Among the lighter lots you had 32kg at €60/hd, 40kg at €89/hd and 43kg at €97/hd. Cull ewes sold from €85-133/hd with most averaging €115-120/hd.

6 Raphoe

Trade yesterday saw good numbers presented with prices "good". The 50-60kg lamb made €120-130/hd, the 44-54kg section €110-120/hd and the 40-44kg €100-110/hd; 35-40kg sold from €90-100/hd with 30-34kg at €80-90/hd. Cull ewes made €60-130/hd. Ewes with twins at foot sold from €200-272/hd while those with singles made €140-190/hd.

7 Ennis

Numbers were small with the best of the hoggets making €125/hd, while top call among the cull ewes was €90/hd.

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