Farm Ireland

Monday 21 May 2018

'Spring lamb producers need €7/kg for reasonable return'

Spring lambs on grass. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Spring lambs on grass. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

There are very few spring lambs available on the market to-date but with Easter Sunday on April 16, butchers, factories and retailers will be looking for numbers in the next two weeks, according to IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey.

He said with the high production costs and work involved, farmers would need a price in the order of €7.00/kg for this top quality product.

In addition, he said factories would need to pay to 21/21.5 kgs in order to ensure a reasonable return to producers.

John Lynskey said that Easter Sunday falls on April 16 and the Muslim festival of Ramadan begins on May 27. He said this should lead to a strong demand for lambs throughout April and May.

The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said hoggets are making from €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg this week and supplies have tightened as the week has progressed, with agents and factories finding it more difficult to get stock.

Numbers at the marts are smaller and the factory kill last week was back 7,000 head compared to the same week last year. To-date this year the kill is 47,144 ahead of last year, clearly indicating that any overhang is gone and numbers may get scarce over the coming weeks.

John Lynskey said ewes are making from €3.00 to €3.10/kg.

Of late official base quotes show hoggets were generally making between €4.85/kg and €4.90/kg with selected lots gaining higher returns while prices for early season Spring lamb were generating around €6/kg and culled ewes were making on average €2.80/kg.

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Overall throughputs at export meat plants for the week ending March 10 stood at just over 46,000 head which was down marginally on the corresponding week in 2016.

Hoggets totalled over 40,000 head with adult sheep reaching almost 6,000 head. Cumulative figures for the year to date are up almost 54,000 head or 12% compared to the same period in 2016 standing at 489,000 head.

In Britain, Bord Bia says little change in the market has been reported with trade following the trend of recent weeks. The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €4.41/kg dw during the week.

Meanwhile, in France, little change in the market has been reported with reduced demand on the back of lower consumption.

It is hoped that volumes of domestic Lacaune lamb will ease in the coming weeks which should help the trade.

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