Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Lamb trade ‘under the weather’ as price dips

Spring lambs on grass. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Spring lambs on grass. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

I spoke to one sheep mart manager yesterday morning who was struck down by a very nasty bug on Sunday.

Having been ill overnight, his plan of action for yesterday was to lie on the couch, rest and watch the Irish Grand National.

Prior to this he told me he hadn’t been laid up since he was a school boy, “a long time ago”.

My point of telling you all of this, apart from wishing that man well, is that the sheep trade is now also under the weather.

Plans made to have a good spring in the sheep business are now ailing as official factory quotes either stick at last week’s levels or slide back by 10c/kg.

The two ICM plants, Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis all pulled their quotes for hogget by 10c/kg over the weekend, while Moyvalley dropped 20c/kg.

The only plant that remained unchanged as of yesterday morning was Kildare Chilling who continue to quote €5/kg plus bonuses for hoggets.

Of those going backwards, Moyvalley is at €5/kg, with the ICMs on €4.80/kg plus 10c/kg. Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis are locked at €4.80+5c/kg.

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The story with spring lamb isn’t any better, again Kildare Chilling are the only ones who hold their quote from last week, €6/kg plus 10c/kg bonus.

The table below shows the two ICMs have pulled their quote by 10c/kg to €5.90/kg+10c/kg, while Moyvalley collapses by 20c/kg to an all-in €6/kg.

The good news is Kepak have come on board with a base of €6/kg+5c/kg as their offering this week, while Dawn were again unable to quote.

On the cull ewe front, prices are generally no worse than last week at 2.80/kg plus bonus payments at Kepak and the two ICMs, while Kildare continued to quote €2.70/+10c/kg.

Dawn on the other hand were yesterday only willing to quote €2.70/kg for ewes which is 5c/kg less than last week’s €2.75/kg.

So where are we? What’s gone wrong?

From the factories point of view all is well. Markets continue to need product, while on the procurement end prices are falling.

The ruthlessness of the business can be gauged by the fact that despite spring lamb numbers being very tight on the ground, none of the factory buyers I spoke to were overly worried.

What have the farm organisations done?

The ICSA has attempted to make an issue out of cheap sheep meat imports from Northern Ireland and Britain undermining price confidence.

However, the IFA, for now, seem to be adopting a far softer approach.

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