Spring lamb faces factory price crunch
Pictures and prices from Loughrea Mart
This week saw all factories attempt to crunch spring lamb prices as they dropped their official quotes by 10-20c/kg.
The short story is that lamb is now being quoted at €6.60-6.80/kg, while Dawn and the two ICM plants are the only plants officially quoting for hoggets.
On the positive side, Dawn and the two ICMs left their base quotes for hoggets unchanged from last week at €6.00/kg. Also positive is the fact that all the plants with an interest in cull ewes left their quoted prices at €3/kg - apart from the €3.10/kg available at Kepak Athleague.
The top quote on our table for new-season lamb comes from Kildare Chilling at €6.80+10c/kg bonus, followed by Moyvalley Meats and Kepak Athleague on €6.80/kg. Next up are the two ICMs on €6.60+10c/kg bonus, with Dawn Ballyhaunis tagging along at the bottom of the ladder at €6.60/kg.
While numbers of hoggets are dwindling, they have not left the stage as evidenced by the fact that both the ICMs and Dawn quote €6.00/kg for them.
IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said that factories are paying €6.50/kg for top quality hoggets, up to 23kg. He said there are a few more spring lambs out this week with factories paying €7.00/kg.
Mr Dennehy described the ewe trade as steady, with €3.00/kg generally available and top prices up to €3.30/kg.
I spoke with New Ross auctioneer Jim Bush on how he sees the sheep trade developing.
“2018 will be remembered as one of the toughest springs for a long number of years,” he said. “Losses on sheep farms were high, for both lambs and ewes, with all sorts of problems arising during and after lambing.
“With the good hogget trade throughout the spring, farmers cashed in ewe hoggets normally kept for breeding, some making up to €160 plus. Early season lambs were always going to be tight, so this has kept a great floor under the trade, with prices reaching a top of €169 head,” he pointed out.
Looking forward, Jim Bushe said the tough lambing conditions this spring were highlighted even more by the numbers of cast ewes being presented for sale.
“If this had been a normal spring, most of them ewes would be rearing lambs,” he said. This in turn, I believe, will leave numbers of lambs tight enough for the rest of the year, so please God you could see a very buoyant trade for lambs and sheep in general for 2018.”
Trade was stronger here for all classes with factory lambs making from €110-150hd. Light lambs were not overly plentiful with prices in the €100-120/hd range. Hoggets sold from €100-140/hd with store types making €60-90/hd. Heavy cull ewes made from €110-130/hd with feeding ewes selling from €50-80/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot sold from €160-250/hd for those with twins while those with singles made from €100-170/hd.
Prices for spring lambs ranged from €121/hd for 42kg to €145/hd for 47kg with the majority selling in the €130-140/hd range. Cull ewes made €85-120/hd while ewes with lambs at foot sold from €160-220/hd with that higher price for those with twins at foot.
Numbers of sheep remained steady with batches of quality lambs and stag ewes improved. Samples on the lamb side included 11 at 37kg who made €113/hd, nine 41.5kg lambs at €128/hd and four at 45.5kg who came in at €140/hd. Among the stage ewes, prices ranged from €88-145/hd, with heavier lots in demand. Hogget prices saw 10 65kg ewes make €158/hd while at the other end, five 42kg wethers sold for €90/hd. Trade for ewes with lambs at foot was brisk with a top of €233/hd for two first-crop ewes with four lambs at foot.
Yesterday’s sale saw a good turnout of sheep with plenty of spring lambs on offer and a good show of hogget. Spring lamb prices saw a top of €170/hd paid for a batch of six lambs who weighted 58kg. Other prices for lamb included 41kg at €148/hd and 46kg at €163/hd. Hogget numbers maybe falling but prices ranging from €120-139/hd on weights from 46-49kg with one batch at 59kg clicking €159/hd. Cull ewes sold from €86-150/hd.
“A real super sale,” according to George Chandler with new-season lamb prices ranging from €125/hd at 39kg for a batch of 26 store types to €161/hd for 10 at 51kg. The small turnout of hoggets saw 60 and 61kgs make €150/hd. Cull ewes sold from €70-150/hd.
A large entry of spring lamb was again a main feature. Top call on the lamb front went to 48.3kg at €150/hd while the €137/hd paid for 50.7kg was the top of the hogget trade. The top cast ewes made €145/hd while at the other end, €36/hd was the bottom of the barrel. Ewes with twin lambs at foot made up to €250/hd while those with singles peaked at €186/hd.
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