The Department said it was continuing to engage on the issue and results were "very encouraging, notwithstanding some few tensions and requests for further clarification/information - which is not unexpected".
The reality is that there is a culture issue to be dealt with here.
Tradition was that farmers often presented their stock as best they could during times of inclement weather. The message from the department is now crystal clear: this is no longer sufficient.
That said I still believe that an examination of how fleeces are removed and the technology currently in use in the processing plants could also do with some revision.
If the Irish sheep business is to continue to evolve in the supply of quality sheep meats, the conversation between factories, the department and farmers has to be a two-way street.
Away from the business of how you operate a sheep plant, hogget prices on the ground are reported as being at a top of €5.50/kg with the IFA reporting €5.60/kg as "possible" in places.
While Michael Harty says that sheep numbers were getting bigger at his sales he also notes that “a lot of sheep are not as far forward as you might expect”. The reason is, of course, the weeks of continuous rain. Prices here for hogget saw the top reached by a batch at 56kg who sold for €130/hd with demand for heavy cull ewes seeing 70-100kg make up to €116/hd.
Padraig Naughton of Mountbellew is of the same mind as Michael Harty: “There’s a share of lamb coming out that are not fully fleshed.” The reason is also the same as in the Tipperary area — too much rain. Prices here saw 50kg hoggets make from €113-115/hd with 44kg making €102 while among the stores 36kg sold for €88/hd. Ewes with single lambs at foot sold from €130-160/hd while those with doubles made from €170-285/hd.
The average price for lamb/hogget here was €93.50/hd with the top of the market seeing €120/hd. Stag ewes sold on average for €70/hd with top lots hitting €97/hd. The top price for ewes with singles at foot was €150/d.
Trade here saw prices for ewe lambs range from €90/hd for 38kgs to €106/hd for 49kg with those between 40 and 44kg selling to a top of €100hd. Ram lamb prices ranged 80-113/hd on weights from 38-47kg with one batch of horned wethers in the mix at €75.50. Fat ewes made from 65-102kgs sold from €86-117.50/kg while in the breeding section springing ewes made up to €130/hd.
While trade wasn’t huge, there was a good turnout at the sale. Prices for ewe hoggets ranged around the €120hd mark, while stag hoggets sold from €125/hd. In lamb ewes made €135/hd, while those not in lamb sold for €240/hd.
According to auctioneer, Sean Leahy there was “much more demand for the butcher type” sheep and lambs at the north Cork mart.
The good weather also meant that numbers were up. In the 52-62kg bracket, prices ranged from €128-144/hd for a mixture of clean, ewe and stag hoggets. Factory type lambs were also in demand and sold from in the region of €110-110/hd.