Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Spring lamb down another 20c-30c/kg

8/6/2017. Ballymote Sheep Mart
Lot 15
Weight 43K
Quantity 25 sheep
Price €117
Photo Brian Farrell
8/6/2017. Ballymote Sheep Mart Lot 15 Weight 43K Quantity 25 sheep Price €117 Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

 THE one constant in business is that the price is dictated by the laws of supply and demand.

Right now in the sheep business it appears that market demand has dipped and this reduction is being passed back to processors in the form of reduced orders and reduced prices.

The processors in turn have been passing the price and demand reductions on to sheep farmers over the past month.

There does not appear to be a massive oversupply on the market, with figures from Bord Bia showing for the year to date supplies have reached 1.21 million head which is up 12pc or 126,000 on 2016.

Up to the first week of June, processors had been taking those extra sheep supplies with ease to the point that €6.00/kg was nearly the universal quote for spring lamb.

Yesterday the quoted factory prices are from 50-60c/kg below that high point of €5.40-5.50/kg, not including bonuses of 5-10c/kg.

In real terms that means your 20.5kg spring lamb carcase is worth between €10.25-€12.30 less than it was a month ago.

Several factory buyers with knowledge of the sales end stated UK lamb was becoming a problem. “I’m meeting it every­where I go on the continent,” one factory man stated.

Also Read

That’s not much of a conso­lation to the farmer who has lamb to sell and is looking at that €10-12 price fall and won­dering if the processors are engaging in a bit of additional opportunistic price cutting on the back of more difficult trad­ing conditions.

However, it should be stressed that prices were in a far worse place this time last year when quotes for spring lamb ran from €4.90-5.00/kg. So you could argue that as we head into July — provided prices don’t fall any further — farmers with lambs to sell are not in a bad place.

That said, no farmer wants to see a sustained period of price reduction and with this week’s additional 20c-30c/kg fall across the board, that’s what we’ve had for the month of June.

Winter finishing

John Lynskey of IFA is more positive about the market than the factories saying there is “no build up of supplies” and prices on the ground are in the range of “€5.60-5.70/kg”.

Some mart managers have said they are expecting the numbers of sheepmen involved in winter finishing lamb to decline from this year on.

Many feel the money they are getting for the winter finishing lamb isn’t worth the extra costs and labour in the middle of the winter.

John Brooks of ICSA said dur­ing the early spring that a move away from winter production was becoming more evident as farmers turned their back on poor returns and higher costs.

Marts Roundup


TRADE was described by auctioneer George Chandler as steady with the expected price drop due to recent factory price movements not materialising. Numbers were slightly bigger yesterday with lambs over 46kgs in demand. Butchers’ lambs sold from €2.40-2.70/kg with a top price of €130/hd paid for two at 50kgs. Top call in the factory section was €2.50/kg off a base of €2.35/kg. Cast ewes made from €50-126/hd.


The trade for spring lamb saw prices reach €114/hd off a base of €82/hd while pens of hoggets hit a top of €95/hd. Cull ewes topped out at €80/hd while among the breeding sheep ewes with lambs at foot made from €114-190/hd.


Patsy Smith said that with more numbers appearing the sheep trade was “quieter all across the board”. Factory lambs made

from €95-117.50/hd while pens of well presented store lambs sold from €75-90/hd with lighter stores making from €60-70/hd. Cull ewes made from €85-110/hd for heavier types while lighter store types sold from €45-75/hd. Ewes with singles made from €120-175/hd.


Spring lambs saw an average price of €93/hd with the top of the market being €120/hd for springs. The hogget trade was buoyant considering the time of the year with prices averaging €102/hd to a top of €118/hd. Stag ewes averaged €105/hd.


THE sale saw “a big sale of lamb and a full clearance”. Prices for spring lambs saw 47kgs make €128/hd, 43.5/kgs on €107/hd with €41kgs coming in at €103/hd.

Yesterday’s sale saw lighter types from 35-39kgs make from €90-99/hd. Cull ewes sold from €98-121/hd.


Thomas Potterton feels factory prices are now beginning to be reflected in the mart trade as prices eased a little last week. The 40kg plus spring lamb averaged from €2.27-2.45/kg with that top price being paid for eight lambs at 46.5kgs who made €114/hd.

The trade for the more storeish type lamb saw eleven at 17kgs making €42/hd while seventeen at 34kgs saw €78.50/hd.

Among the butchers’ lambs were a batch at 48kgs who made €132/hd or €2.75/kg.

For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App

Online Editors