THE Bank Holiday feeling may have enticed many to a whirl with the family on the hurdy-gurdies at Salthill or Tramore, but the reality on a lot of sheep farms was more work, less play.
Many were more focused on drawing spring lamb and hoggets than the joys of the bumpers.
The Bank Holiday weekend, also serves as a reminder of exactly how major business decisions are sometimes timed on sheep and other farms around the country. The issue is manpower or “help”.
Farming and the handling of stock sheep in particular requires a lot of help, and with the “lads” — that term in this context also covers the girls — home from college or from school there was extra help about.
That extra help was mobilised on a lot of sheep farms not only yesterday but over the weekend and the expectation among the factory men is that with the weather so good and lambs thriving a serious number of “first draft” spring lambs will begin to appear this week along with the tailend of the hoggets in western areas.
In anticipation of this factory bosses have in some cases adjusted their quotes downwards. Others while holding at last week’s levels were cautious not to appear overly optimistic on price prospects.
“It’s the same old ding dong” says ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks. “It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and the factories are trying to beat each other in a race to the bottom of the barrel on price in the hope of creating a small panic. The reality is that I was quoted €5.15 for hogget, €6.00 for spring lamb and €3.00 for ewes.”
This is good to hear because official quotes are at best only where they were last week with a lot of plants tendering lower. Among the quotes that have remained unchanged is the one from Kildare Chilling for spring lamb at €590+10c/kg bonus, with Dawn Ballyhaunis’s quote for cull ewes at €2.70/kg another unchanged quote from last week. Kepak Athleague drop back 10c/kg from €6.00+5c/kg bonus on spring lamb to €5.90+5c/kg bonus while both of the ICM plants are on €5.70+10c bonus, which leaves Dawn Ballyhaunis tailing the field at €5.70/kg for the springs.
The two ICM’s appear well tailed off with their quote for ewes of just €2.50/kg.
This sounds very negative until you look at the figures for this week last year.
Official quotes for spring lamb then were stuck on €5.50/kg which means this week’s quotes for spring lamb are from 20-40c/kg better than 12 months ago.
The situation with the hogget is worse however with this week’s quotes being from 20-30c/kg worse than last year. Prices for cull ewes are no better or worse.
SHEEP sales are trending larger, with spring lamb prices remaining steady from €114-116/hd for 40-42/kg. Heavier lamb in the 43-50kg section made from €116-122/hd with one pen of 50kg Charollais making €125/hd. Heavy hoggets in the 53-54kg bracket sold from €114-118/hd with ewe hoggets making into the mid €120s. Store hoggets sold off a base of €88/hd with the majority hitting between €92-100/hd. Ewes with singles at foot made from €120-200/hd with doubles seeing a top of €235/hd.
The mart also had a large entry of sheep last week with spring lamb from 40-50kgs making from €110-131/hd, while hoggets sold from €119-132/hd on weights from 65.5kgs-55.8kgs.
Cast ewes met a steady trade and sold from €74-118/hd. The good turnout of ewes with lambs at foot saw quality push prices up to €242/hd for those with singles off a base of €130/hd, while doubles hit a top of €318/hd off a base of €180/hd.
Trade was reported as steady last Saturday with heavier fleshy hoggets selling from €100-123/hd with store types making from €75-95/hd, while lighter pens made from €50-75/hd. The small entry of spring lamb saw prices range from €100-113/hd.
The general run of prices for heavier cull ewes was from €80-110/hd with feeding ewes on €50-80/hd. The trade for ewes with lambs at foot saw singles make from €150-180/hd, while younger ewes with twins made from €180-230/hd.
There was a good turnout of sheep, particularly for a Bank Holiday Monday, was one of the comments heard ringside.
Prices for cull ewes went to a top of €112/hd while among the hoggets weights from 40-49kgs made from €80-107/hd with those from 50-60kgs hitting €115/hd. Those with spring lambs saw this year’s crop fetch from €110/hd for 43kgs up to €125/hd for 47kgs.
Up near the border spring lamb weighing in from 43-50kgs sold from €110-118.50/kg while hoggets sold from €93.5/hd for 40kgs up to €95/hd for 43.9/kg. Heavier sheep made from €73-123/hd from 59-107kgs. The ewes with single lambs at foot made from €120-150/hd while those with doubles at foot saw prices from €130-180/hd.