More new year cheer for sheep farmers as prices keep on rising


Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
File photo: Getty Images
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

In contrast to the cattle factory trade, the early weeks of 2019 have seen the fortunes of those with sheep to sell improve, with quotes on our table below better this week by 5-10c/kg.

Kildare Chilling continue to lead the way, as they often do, adding 10c/kg to their quote for lamb to bring it to €5.10+10c/kg quality assurance.

They are followed by Kepak Athleague with their of €4.95+5c/kg QA, up 5c/kg on last week. The two ICMs also add 5c/kg, bringing them in line with Dawn Ballyhaunis on €490+10c/kg QA, Dawn being the only plant to leave their quote unchanged.

On the cull ewe front it is very much as you were, with only Kepak improving their offer - up 10c/kg to €2.70/kg thus putting themselves in line with the rest - Kildare push that little bit further by virtue of their 10c/kg bonus.

Prices on the ground for lambs seem to harden as yesterday went on, with up to €5.30/kg reported as supplies continue to tighten.

The IFA's Sean Dennehy put the price spread yesterday at €5.20-5.25/kg, with some sellers holding out for 5.30/kg.

John Brooks of the ICSA was more bullish, claiming that €5.30/kg was where lambs were now at. And that's a position I can understand given that reports yesterday from marts such as Corrin and Athenry clearly show that both factory and butchers' lambs were improved by up to €8, with store types better as a result by €10/hd on occasion.

Prices for cull ewes have seen little real improvement of late but at a general run of €3.00/kg I don't hear to many complaints.

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The announcement that the Department and Veterinary Ireland have concluded an agreement in relation to meat inspection services is welcome.


The prospect of further disruption to kill lines was one neither factory nor farmer were looking forward to, especially as it is expected that with Easter and Ramadan falling within two weeks of each other (April 21 and May 6 respectively) demand for sheep meat around that time could see prices move on nicely.

While the IFA and the ICSA were preaching the end of the world in their press statements last week in relation to Brexit and what it might doto the cattle trade, it seems to have gone unnoticed by both organisations that all Irish sheep meat sold on the continent has to transit the UK. Just an observation.


1 Ennis

Trade was similar to the last days of 2018 but there were some significant improvements, with hoggets up €5-8/hd. The general run of lambs sold from €115-125/hd, with that top price going to a pen weighing 53kg. Cull ewes also stronger with prices €60-120/hd.

2 Ballinrobe

Here too it was a first sale of the new year with prices, as at Ennis, reported as being improved on the last sale of 2018. Store lambs sold from €72-96/hd with ewe lambs seeing a top call of €115/hd. Fat ewes made from €74-110/hd.

3 Dowra

Trade here was also improved, with the better store lamb very much in demand. Factory types sold from €105-121.50/hd, while heavier butcher types saw a top call of €125/hd being made on a pen weighting 51kg. On the store side the better-quality lamb sold from €85-105/hd, with lighter mountain types making €60-85/hd. The tops of the cull ewes made €85-110/hd with more storish types selling for €50-80/hd. There were a few pens of young cross-bred in-lamb ewes with prices here at €145-162/hd.

4 Corrin

Yesterday saw a good show of sheep and "they sold away mad". On the breeding side ewes in lamb sold from €105-162/hd, while cull ewes made €80-132/hd. Sample prices among the lambs included 45-48kgs at €106-117/hd and 50-52kgs at €114-124/hd, with heavier lots making up to 126/hd.

5 Athenry

Numbers were also strong given the day of the year, with auctioneer Alan Barry reporting improved prices on the back of a brisk trade. "Butcher and factory types were probably up €7-8/hd, with stores better by about a tenner," he said. Sample prices included 65kgs at €128/hd, 50-55kgs at €123-125/hd and 45kgs at €112/hd. With the mild weather having dried out ground well and grass growing, farmers were keen for stores, with 40kg lambs seeing prices as high as €104/hd. The top of the cull ewe market was €120/hd, with the average run being €100-105/hd.

6 Maam Cross

On the lamb side here black-faced cross-breds averaged €70, with one batch of 20 hitting the top price of €117/hd. Six Suffolk hoggets saw a top call of €106/hd, with averages a working out at €58/hd. Dry ewes averaged €51/hd, while seven young in-lamb black-faced ewes sold for €74/hd.

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