Relief as lamb prices begin to bounce back


Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

The sheep farmers of Ireland truly are a different breed. Not unlike the Limerick hurlers against Cork on Sunday, they have made a huge turnaround. They have succeeded over the weekend where their cattle farming cousins have failed.

In other words, as the sheep quotes came in yesterday, I at least had the satisfaction of seeing them edge upwards, away from their long, downward spiral.

Quotes for lamb were up by 10-20c/kg despite several factory agents telling me "there are plenty of sheep about".

The biggest mover on our price table is Kildare Chilling who have lifted its lamb quote by 20c/kg to €5.00+10c/kg quality assurance.

Kepak Athleague join Kildare on €5.00/kg but it only added 10c/kg as it was coming off the higher price of €4.90/kg last week.

Moyvalley also added 10c/kg to its lamb quote for yesterday, bringing them also to €5.00/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis and the two ICMs also put up their price by 10c/kg, with all three on €4.90/kg but with the two ICMs topping up their price with an additional 10c/kg bonus payment.

Quotes for ewes means prices have stabilised after a few weeks of volatility.

Kildare Chilling lead on €2.70+10c/kg bonus followed by the two ICMs on €2.70/kg, while Kepak and Dawn remain unchanged at €2.60/kg. IFA national sheep chair, Sean Dennehy, explained that the lamb trade is stronger this week with supplies tighter and factories actively looking for lambs. Mr Dennehy said "price quotes are up 10c/kg and factories are paying €5.10 to €5.15/kg for lambs".

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He added that the ewe trade was stronger with "up to €3.00/kg paid". The IFA also report that they met the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his officials last week on the electronic tagging issue.

John Brooks of ICSA tells me that the live shipping of sheep continues, with prices now around the €2.30/kg mark.


Factory agents I spoke to concur that there are "plenty of sheep about", however they explain this week's price rise as linked to the notion of being willing to pay more for better quality stock.

The issue of quality versus numbers often indicates a tipping point having been reached. Once you put the price up for select lots, it usually follows that that one act creates its own momentum across the entire trade.

On the mart front, most marts reported a steady to improving trade last week with Baltinglass recording a €3-4/hd increase in the price of its stores.

In general, however, the trade was stable despite numbers rising in some places.

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