Factory prices appeared to stick at around the €5.20/kg mark for much of last week. However, as this week opens factory buyers appear to have run a little further out of puff with prices for hoggets eased back from that €5.20/kg to around €5.15/kg.
However, John Brooks of ICSA believes there may be more in them yet. “The short week this week isn’t helping farmers but numbers will be needed as we head towards Easter and we will see whether they hold up,” the ICSA man said.
The situation in relation to hoggets as of yesterday morning was that their quoted price had not moved from last week’s €4.90-4.95/kg base at any plant, with one exception, Kildare Chilling, who drop back this week from €4.95/kg to €4.92/kg plus 10c/kg bonus.
There is a bit more movement in the trade for cull ewes with all the factories coming into line on a base of €2.80/kg with bonuses of 5-10ckg to come at certain plants.
The biggest mover in this market are Kepak Athleague who jump 15c/kg from last week’s base of €2.65/kg followed by Kildare Chilling who added 10c/kg to their quote yesterday morning.
Dawn Ballyhaunis rose their quote for ewes by 5c/kg, thus effectively putting them all in line at €2.80/kg with last week’s two table leaders for ewes, the two ICM plants. Kepak Athleague take the lead this year in being the first to officially quote for new season lamb at €6.00/kg, while also offering €8.00/kg for ‘baby/milk lamb’ between 9-13kgs.
The mart trade almost exactly mirrored the factory trade last week with most sheep marts reporting plenty of interest from buyers but generally not willing to push the boat out any further on price.
Yesterday’s mart reports showed a continuation of stability in prices.
Bord Bia’s analysis of the sheep trade to the week ending March 3 shows that total throughput at just over 44,000hd was up a 1,000 on the same week last year - although the cumulative figure for the year is up about 54,000hd.
Looking at that figure of a 1,000 increase for that week are we seeing a dramatic slowing down in numbers? Another question is what effect a spell of good weather might have on the trade?
The British trade has begun to show signs of the predicted increase in their domestic slaughtering, with numbers up 9pc on 2016 levels, although prices remain fairly stable at €4.47/kg dead weight.
The situation in France is similar with the trade there also stable at €5.09/kg dead weight including VAT being paid for grade 1 Irish lamb at the start of this month.
Meanwhile the New Zealand lamb numbers for this season are back 11pc on the 2015/16 season.