Quotes from the factories remained unchanged yet again yesterday, with lamb base prices continuing on €4.90-5.10/kg plus various bonuses.
It’s also as you were on the cull ewe front, with €2.50/kg the universal quote, and Kildare adding their 10c/kg quality bonus.
How are numbers developing? While the factories, probably accurately, say they are getting enough, the reality is that while marts continue to see high entries the peak seems to have passed.
IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy points out that imports in the EU from New Zealand are back from 2019 levels.
“The Chinese market is sucking in a lot of sheep from New Zealand and we’re seeing imports to the EU back 17pc on 2019,” he said, adding that in 2019 New Zealand was only able to fill around 50pc of its allocated quota.
Sean reported yesterday that lambs are moving in the €5.35-5.40/kg range, with cull ewes making €2.60-2.80/kg.
However, the resurgence of the Covid virus is hitting the hospitality sector hard across the continent, as well as here: Belgium yesterday directed all bars and restaurants be closed for one month.
We have been here before. Back in the spring it took a while for the market to adjust but adjust it did, with the fall-off from the hospitality sector offset by increased supermarket sales.
Sean McNamara of ICSA predicts that prices could yet jump. “The job is going well especially as factories are now paying up to 22kg.”
What about supplies? “The lambs are not there.”
North of the border, processors are paying the equivalent of €4.84/kg up to 21kg. This is up 6-11c/kg on the previous week.
Overall therefore the trade continues to move along very nicely, but with weather now turning a little sour, choices may have to be made as regards what to put in and what to sell.
But in the farming business as in any business it’s always a question of reading the market and planning accordingly. Judging by the strength of the store lamb trade, most believe sheep will continue to give a return long term.
Yesterday’s sale had almost 400 sheep on offer, with trade “good all round”. Lambs averaged €2.36/kg while cull ewes made €71-115/hd.
Sample prices saw 50-56kgs average €121-129/hd, with 46-48kgs making €114-115/hd. Among the lighter lambs 33-39kgs sold from €76-100/hd.
Ivan Moffitt described his trade as “good to steady”, and with plenty of men available to buy stores, their prices ran from €60-85/hd.
Demand was such that Ivan noted that even the “rougher type” store had no problem finding a new home. Factory lambs sold from €105-107/hd while cull ewes were steady at €70-100/hd.
In relation to supplies Ivan reckons a lot of sheep are gone but we may yet see a surge in numbers once those stores that were bought earlier in the autumn start to reappear in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year.
The story here was of strong numbers, although numbers of stag ewes and hoggets were less.
Sample prices among the lambs saw ten 43.8kg ewe lambs average €102/hd, while twelve weighing 39.2/kgs averaged €96/hd. Twenty-one 47.2kg lambs made €113/hd, with eight 45kg ewe lambs averaging €126/hd.
On the breeding side ewe hoggets sold from €120-180/hd, with first-crop ewes making €125-150/hd and second-crop ewes selling from €110-130/hd. Stag ewes sold from €90-115/hd, with the trade reported as being good for the heavier type.
A very strong trade for stores, particularly for Suffolk cross ewe lambs, with up to €120/hd paid for 32kgs.
Ten 45kg lambs averaged €126/hd, with various other lots between 42-48kg coming in at €100-114/hd. Down in the weights you had 32-37kgs averaging €77-94/hd, with twelve at 36kg making €110/hd.
Suffolk and Cheviot hogget ewes made €130-180/hd, with two- and three-year-old ewes selling from €105-150/hd, while older ewes made €70-120. Cast ewes averaged €55-110/hd.
Thomas Potterton reckons that numbers of lambs are starting to tail off. That said, your good 35-40kg store lamb was well fit to make €82-89/hd, with factory types averaging €89-98/hd.
On the butchers side, hoggets sold from €110-120/hd, while among the breeders a selection of scanned-in lamb ewes averaged €160-190/hd.
Although numbers have eased they are still well ahead of this time last year. Neilius McAuliffe told me that one of the reasons for such good numbers is that the spring of this year saw very little losses: “The sun was splitting the stones in March/April time and lambs were hitting the ground with every chance”.
Saturday’s sale saw store lambs from 30-32kg making € 74-75/hd with 40kgs averaging €94-95/hd, while in the heavier section samples included 49kgs at €111/hd. Cast ewes made up to €10/hd over the €/kg with horny ewes making from €/kg to €2/hd under their weight.
Numbers were less here yesterday with George Candler commenting that decreasing numbers saw stronger demand helping to steady prices.
“Butchers’, factory and store lambs were all in demand with cull ewe numbers smaller, which created a good selling trade,” he told me. Butcher types sold from €108-118/hd with factory lambs making €98-112/hd, while your store lamb averaged €78-96/hd. Cast ewe made from €45/hd to an impressive €127/hd.