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Prices are hotting in the sheep trade


THERE might be snow and sleet in the wind but the sheep trade has at last begun to warm up.

Last week prices rose by between 10-20c/kg, with Kepak Athleague leading the way on 5c/kg at €4.85/kg plus their 5c/kg bonus. Kildare Chilling was second with an all-in €4.85.

Yesterday morning Kildare Chilling were out of the blocks sharpest, putting it up to the combined opposition with an early official quote of €4.90+10c/kg bonus. Once everyone else had got organised the pace quickened considerably.

Kepak Athleague added 10c/kg to last week’s price to sit on €4.95 plus 5c/kg bonus to tie with Kildare. A bit further back are the two ICMs who despite lifting by 10c/kg are still 10c off the leaders with their €4.80 plus 10c/kg.

Also up 10c/kg are Moyvalley Meats with an all-in price of €4.90/kg. Having been upwards of 25c/kg off the pace last week when they would only quote €4.60/kg, Dawn Ballyhaunis upped their game yesterday morning as they jumped 25c/kg to €4.85/kg.

The official quotes bring us into the real world of what is actually being paid? While Bord Bia figures for the week ending February 18 show that sheep throughput is running upwards of 15pc (45,000hd) ahead of the corresponding period last year, the reality is factories don’t increase prices unless they have a prospective market and/or numbers of suitable stock for the markets they do have.

With these factors in mind the prices doing the rounds yesterday morning from the various farm organisations ranged from a base of €5.00/kg to reports by both IFA and ICSA of deals up to €5.20/kg being actively pursued.

Cull ewe prices have also moved upwards with Kildare Chilling now quoting €2.70/kg +10c/kg bonus followed by Kepak Athleague on €2.65+5c/kg bonus.

The other mover is Dawn Ballyhaunis who lift their price by 10c/kg to tie with the two ICM plants on €2.60/kg. On the ground, prices have moved to between €2.80/kg and €3.00/kg

The AHDB (Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board), Bord Bia’s UK equivalent, published its 2017 predictions earlier this month. It expects British sheep meat production to grow in 2017 due to a documented increase of 3pc in first time breeding lamb numbers.

While the volatility of sterling is an unknown and could work in the UK’s favour, this report predicts a weakening in the French market may lead to price problems.

“An increase in supplies is likely to put pressure on the market and, therefore, making sure lambs are in-spec for their market will be crucial in ensuring both higher returns for producers and a consistent product for consumers,” it says.

Online Editors