Lamb prices: Supply stable ahead of the Easter feast
This week's price table, shows no change for hogget prices from last week although the ICM group, which controls over 40pc of the national sheep kill, do lift their quote for cull ewes by 10c/kg to €3.00/kg. Is this a sign of an improving market?
For now, those in the know are saying that supply is meeting demand. That was not the case last week when a surge in supply resulted in Kildare Chilling pulling their quote for hogget by 10c/kg to €5.90/kg.
Yesterday that 10c/kg cut had been reversed and Kildare begin this week on a quote of €6.00+10c/kg quality bonus for hogget. This incidentally means they remain 10-20c/kg ahead of the competition when it comes to comparing base prices less bonus payments.
Kepak Athleague is the best of the rest on hoggets with a price of €5.90+5c/kg bonus. They are followed by the ICM plants which remain on last week's price of €5.80+bonus of 10c/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis round out this week's table at €5.80+5c/kg bonus, also the same as last week's offering.
The ICM plants' cull ewe quote brings then level with Kildare Chilling on base price although they are still 10c/kg behind when you factor in Kildare's 10c/kg quality bonus.
Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague continue to top the cull ewe table on a quote of €3.10/kg.
IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said the lamb trade remains solid with factories paying €6.20/kg.
The spring lamb trade has picked up this week with butchers and marts actively looking for scarce supplies. He said prices in excess of €7.00/kg are being mentioned and some marts are offering €105 along with the weight, which would take a 40kg lamb into €145.
John Brooks of ICSA said that new season lamb supply will be slow enough to appear after a very difficult winter.
Processors say that meaningful numbers were yet to appear and that some of what is coming through is leaving a bit to be desired quality wise.
That said, supplies of sheep to factories did surge somewhat towards the end of last week, a result no doubt of farmers deciding to move their supplies just ahead of when factories might be easing off in the run up to Easter. Overall sheep throughput is up 3.5pc to 551,452 in the year to March 17, yet prices are in a better place for hogget than twelve months ago. Remember as well that this time last year numbers of new lamb were such that all the factories were quoting for it. Hogget supplies may yet have to pick up the slack this year.
Hogget prices ranged from €113/hd to €141hd for heavier types. Stag ewes averaged €95/hd with the top price paid being €174.50/hd. On the breeding side ewes with lambs at foot maxed out at €145/hd.
There was a shade more supply than in previous weeks which slightly dampened prices. That said, spring lamb sold to a top of €142/hd which was paid for a lot of 13 at 43kg. General prices for spring lamb ranged from €122-135/hd on weights from 39-47kgs. Butchers’ hoggets made from €125-135/hd with the lighter factory hogget selling from €107-113/hd.
The butchering fraternity were out in force here yesterday and drove on spring lamb prices, with the general run being from €144-151/hd on weights from 40-47kgs. Top went to a batch at 60kgs who were knocked down for Easter Sunday dinners at €156/hd. Hoggets from 49-50kgs sold from €135-140/hd. Cull ewes hit a top of €133/hd.
Yesterday’s sale saw a very good trade for new season lamb with prices ranging from €119/hd to a very impressive €164/hd paid for a batch of five at 50kgs. And that price was no flash in the pan as lamb from 39-52kgs sold for between €150-158/hd. Hogget made from €100-124/hd with cast ewes making from €40-140/hd. Lighter lamb, suitable for either further feeding or the factory, made from €77-118/hd while ewes with lambs at foot sold to a top of €246/hd.
Numbers remained steady here as did demand with a full clearance achieved across the board. Hoggets made from €104-120/hd while butcher type lambs ranged in price from €105-130/hd. Fat ewes sold to a top of €124/hd off of an €80/hd base.
A bigger entry of sheep saw the first sales of this year’s lamb crop meet exceptional demand with prices for quality lots ranging from €145-155/hd on weights from 42-51kgs. Lighter lamb from 39-41kgs sold to a top of €143/hd. Hogget prices saw an improvement with those from 42-56kgs making from €117-147/hd. A good cull ewe trade saw heavy culls make from €125-147/hd with lighter culls selling from €60-110/hd. In lamb ewes made from €125-140/hd while those with lambs at foot sold from €135-215/hd.
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