Martin Coughlan: Protests forcing the factories to play ball
Quotes for spring lamb remained steady yesterday as factories appeared to consider the supply and market situation.
Part of the reason for this pause is down to Ramadan ending this day next week, June 4.
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There is also a belief among sheep farmers that last week's protest by the ICSA at Camolin took not only the ICM plants by surprise but also the wider processing sector.
Sean McNamara, who led that picket, will today lead an ICSA delegation to discuss sheep prices and other matters pertaining to sheep supply to Camolin.
The IFA are also helping keep the pressure on as they today will engage in discussions on prices with Kepak in Athleague.
The farm organisations appear to have gotten their tactics right as they force the processors to the table at two plants in different parts of the country.
Although Moyvalley do lift their offering for spring lambs by 10c/kg to €5.60/kg, all other prices on our price table for lamb remain as they were last week.
This means Dawn and the two ICMs continue on €5.50+10c/kg bonus, with Kepak also on €5.50/kg but with a better bonus at 15c/kg. This leaves Kildare top at €5.55+10c/kg.
How factories view the world can be gauged by the fact that despite the ICSA protest and knowing farming delegations would be arriving on Tuesday, quotes for hoggets dropped yesterday by 25c/kg at Kildare Chilling and the two ICM plants. All three are on €4.25/kg.
Both Kepak and Dawn still decline to officially quote for hoggets.
Cull ewe quotes appear to have stabilised from €2.50-2.70/kg, although Dawn drop back 10c/kg to €2.50 to line up with the two ICM plants. Kepak are steady at €2.60/kg, while Kildare remain top at €2.70+10c/kg QA.
Price reporting from IFA indicates that spring lambs are ranging from €5.60-5.75/kg including various group bonuses.
On hogget prices Sean Dennehy told me: "While factories have collapsed quotes for hoggets, the reality is some plants are looking for hoggets and are paying up to €4.80/kg."
Cull ewe prices on the ground are generally reported as ranging from a low of €2.60/kg to €2.90/kg.
A sheep farmer from the west contacted me over the weekend wondering why the farm organisations had not looked for an EU support package for the sheep industry as the cattlemen had done.
It's a fair question, especially as prices are well below last year's levels.
This week last year quotes on our price table for spring lambs ranged from €6.20-6.30/kg, with hoggets quotes on €5.40-5.50/kg.
Bord Bia figures show that this year to May 18 the total sheep kill in the Republic is back 8.1pc to 931,083 from last year's 1,013,305 for the same period. That sheepman has a valid point.
With rumours emerging that Leo Varadkar may be considering going to the country this autumn, there may yet be room for sheep farmers to make a strong case.
Ballymote: 'Sheepmen feel cheated this year'
Did you know that Ballymote in Co Sligo is the birthplace of Andrew Kerins, better known as Brother Walfrid the founder of Glasgow Celtic football club? That sort of pedigree breeds an uncomplicated directness and honesty when dealing with farming's hard issue.
"Sheepmen feel cheated this year," says Ballymote Mart manager, Stephen Hannon.
"It's bitter when you're up lambing all hours early in the year and now you have to take €20/hd less. There's no appreciation of what's required," he maintained.
On the prices front, last Thursday's sale saw a good entry of sheep with Hannon noting that despite the pressure on prices 42-46kg springs averaged €106-110, with good quality 45kg ewe lambs making up to €114/hd. Trade for cull ewes ranged from €116-120/hd, with plainer lots back around the €95/hd mark. Ballymote commences evening sales on June 4 as they move their sales day to Tuesday to accommodate their summer clients and customers.
Patsy Smith reported a steady sheep trade for the bigger numbers on offer here. Heavy lambs sold for €110-116/hd, with factory types making €100-110/hd. Factory hoggets sold for €90-100/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot made €150-190/hd while older ewes with lambs, at foot ranged from €100-150/hd.
Spring lambs and stag ewes continued the decent trade of recent weeks, with quality lots of ewe hoggets performing well. Wether hoggets were, however, a "hard sell". Sample prices included 15 45kg spring lambs at €111/hd, 11 41kg lambs at €100/hd and twenty 54kg lambs at €112/hd. Among the hoggets eleven 54kg ewe hoggets sold for €126/hd, with eight at 72kg making €138/hd.
Billy Loftus reported factory lambs as selling for €90-112/hd while cull ewes ranged from €70-110/hd. On the breeding side ewes with lambs at foot operated around the €2.40-2.80/hd mark, with those better prices going to the top outfits among the Texels and Suffolks.
Prices for spring lamb were reported as steady here despite increased numbers and continuing factory uncertainty. Lambs from 38-48kg sold for €95-105/hd with 40-65kg hoggets making €85-95/hd. Cast ewes sold for €85-125/hd while ewes with lambs at foot making €140/hd. Ewes with twins at foot saw a top of €180/hd.
Trade for lambs here was also reported as steady with if anything an improved appetite for 40-43kg stock. The general run of prices for 43kg and upwards was €114-118/hd, with the tops seeing €128/hd. From 39kg to 43kg prices ranged from 10-108/hd with the tops here making €114/hd.
Yesterday's sale here was bigger than previously with prices reported as being a "little easier". Prices for spring lambs from 48-54kg ranged from €120-133/hd. Lighter lambs from 39-42kgs sold for €101-110/hd with a majority of those nicely fleshed in the 45-47kg range making around the €112/hd mark. Cast ewes sold for €70-117/hd.
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