Spring lamb quotes open in €5.80-€6/kg price bracket

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

The first thing to be said this morning is that after 42 years on the front line of the sheep business Bertie Mannion chief procurement manager for Kepak Athleague is to retire.

His report to me this week is the last time I will have the benefit of his colourful and often very shrewd analysis.

“In my time the lessons are simple. For business to get done there has to be trust and there has to be enough in it for every lad along the road, whether that’s the farmer, the factory or the supermarket. They all have to feel it’s worth their while,” was Bertie’s parting message.

It’s the truth; the day one part of that equation goes out of balance — whether it’s in the sale of cattle, sheep or pigs — the food chain is in very serious trouble. Best of luck Bertie.

The “truth” of this week’s factory sheep trade is that prices for hoggets remain largely unchanged at €4.90-4.95/kg, plus added bonuses of 5-10c/kg after that.

The one exception is Moyvalley Meats who are this week’s top payers as they edge out the competition for hoggets at an all in price of €5.10/kg.

The trade for spring lamb sees quotes opening in the range €5.80-6.00/kg as a base, with the two ICM plants and Kildare Chilling all offering an additional 10c/kg quality bonus.

Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague offer a flat base of €6.00/kg, while Moyvalley again top the price table with their all in price of €6.20/kg. That very select milk lamb market sees the ICM plants offering €8.00/kg on weights from 10-13/kg.

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Away from official quotes ICSA’s John Brooks points out that €5.80/kg up to 24kgs was paid for hoggets this time last year, while €6.10/kg was the price for the same week in 2015, compared to the “€5.20/kg available today”.

Meanwhile, the IFA’s John Lynskey said €7.00/kg was the minimum required to cover production costs for early lambs.

This year, Easter Sunday falls on April 16 which means factories and retailers will be looking for numbers in the next fortnight.

Numbers at the marts are smaller, and the factory kill last week was back 7,000 head, compared to the same week last year.

“So far in 2017, 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,” Mr Lynskey said.

What all this means is that last week’s on the ground price for hoggets remains in effect at about €5.20/kg, however there are some reports of €5.10/kg being offered. Cull ewe prices also remain static on €3.00-3.10.

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