Farm Ireland

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Ringside: Trade is steady despite March's 'skinning' days

Rush harbour in North Co Dublin during Storm Emma. Photo: Mark Condren
Rush harbour in North Co Dublin during Storm Emma. Photo: Mark Condren
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

There's a story in Irish folklore about an old, brown-striped cow that boasted that the harsh weather of March could not kill her. March took exception to this claim and, borrowing three days from April, renewed the assault with added fury. Savage rain, hail, snow gales and cold poured down on the boastful cow.

She duly succumbed and died and ever since the first three days of April have become known as 'Laethanta na Riabhaiche' in the west: the borrowed or skinning days.

Having survived the snow and frosts of March, the first few days of April this year will have further tested the endurance of many young lambs and ewes about to lamb.

Baltinglass Mart manager Joe Kinsella told me that while Hurricane Emma had presented very serious problems to sheep men, the lighter fall of snow that appeared 10 days later probably did more harm.

"It came just at the wrong time," Joe said. "It probably did more harm to young lambs and ewes about to lamb than Storm Emma."

On the prices front, the sheep trade is actually in a good place despite some of the major players deciding to pull their prices for hogget over the weekend by 10c/kg. Kepak Athleague drop back to €5.80+5c/kg bonus payment. Kildare Chilling, despite dropping back to €5.90/kg plus bonuses, are still tussling with Moyvalley who are on €6.00/kg for hogget.

The two ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis remain on last week's opening quote of €5.80 plus various bonuses.

On the cull ewe side, the only movement saw Dawn Ballyhaunis ease back its ewe quote to a straight €3.00/kg from last week's €3.10/kg.

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This leaves Kepak Athleague in top spot with their base quote yesterday staying steady at €3.10/kg.

Quality scheme

All other plants with an interest in cull ewes are in line with Dawn on €3.00/kg with Kildare adding 10c/kg to qualifying animals through their quality scheme.

John Brooks of the ICSA said hogget prices remain resilient with €6.00-6.10/kg generally available and reports of €6.20/kg being offered to groups or individuals with bigger numbers.

On the ewe front, he said that €3.20/kg was the going rate, but he added that some plants with an interest in lighter quality ewes were reported to be paying from €3.30-3.40/kg.

On the mart trade, Joe Kinsella said store sheep are benefiting from the strength of the heavy sheep trade with prices for stores at his most recent sale up €10-14/hd on two weeks ago.

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