Store lamb prices rise by €3-5/hd as beef farmers add 'bite' to trade

Pictured at Carnew mart, auctioneer David Quinn.
Pictured at Carnew mart, auctioneer David Quinn.
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Beef farmers are helping underpin the sheep trade in the marts as farmers switch from buying store cattle to purchasing bigger numbers of store lambs.

Mart managers report a definite increase in beef farmer activity around sheep rings over the last few weeks as a consequence of the collapsing confidence in the cattle business. This has helped drive on store lamb prices, which are €3-5/hd up on last year.

The lift in store lamb prices is not just down to increased buying by beef farmers.

David Quinn of Carnew Mart in Wicklow said the plentiful supply of grass this summer, and sheep farmers having lower numbers of ewes and therefore buying more store lambs were equally important factors.

However, he admitted that the presence of beef farmers around the sales ring had added bite to the trade.

Mr Quinn said farmers were not switching entirely from store cattle to sheep, but he said they were certainly increasing their store lamb purchases this year.

Billy Loftus of Mayo-Sligo Mart in Ballina said there were definitely more beef farmers buying store lambs this summer.

He explained that the money involved in buying store lambs was obviously far smaller than the investment required in cattle.

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In addition, the lambs were a "short-term keep" he said. Mr Loftus added that many farmers did not harvest second-cut silage this year, and they had ample grass supplies as a result and were in the market for more store lambs.

Read more: Ringside, page 17

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