Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

'Slow torture' as prices cut 5-10c/kg

Joe Healy

I would need Seamus Heaney's command of the English language to portray the sheer annoyance amongst sheep farmers about the continuous downward pressure on quotes and prices.

Only six weeks ago all plants were quoting 500c/kg with one of them on 510c/kg, but today it is a base quote of 450c/kg across the board apart from the all-in 460c/kg from Moyvalley.

One farmer remarked that the continual cutting of prices was like a slow form of torture.

The latest quotes equate to a loss of €10/lamb in just six weeks. This is regrettable coming as it does at the most critical time of the year for the sheep sector. At breeding time it is imperative that there is a reasonably good and positive mood amongst sheep farmers in order for the maximum amount of ewes to be put to the ram.

The current lamb quotes are definitely testing their resolve, given that they are running some 20c/kg below the corresponding week last year.

The two Kepaks, and Dawn Ballyhaunis have dropped their base by 10c/kg and 5c/kg respectively to join both ICM plants at 450c/kg plus the bonus.

Kildare are also on a base of 450c/kg but have the QA bonus of 5c/kg on top of the U grade bonus.

Similar to the lambs, almost all of the plants are singing off the one hymn sheet for the cull ewes. Both ICMs, the Kepaks and Dawn Ballyhaunis are offering 180c/kg, which for the ICMs represents a drop of 10c/kg. Kildare have retained the status quo of 190c/kg while Moyvalley are not quoting.

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The IFA's James Murphy said that farmers were selling hard and holding out for and getting up to 470c/kg for lamb despite the lower quotes.

Meanwhile, the lamb trade in Britain weakened on the back of some increases in supplies being marketed.


Most categories were back in price at the marts over the past week. However, there was strong demand across the board. Special sales saw prices of up to €200 paid for ewe hoggets while the normal run of hoggets made from €120-150.

Fit lambs were mainly selling for €45-57 with their weight with good demand for stores resulting in €60-80 being paid for the more forward type while lighter lots made from €40-58.

In Athenry yesterday prices for the lambs over 44kg were making from €45-53 over the weight with a tops of €58 over when €105 was paid for 47kg.

All roads led to Ballinrobe Mart for their annual Mule sale last Friday. A lot of repeat customers from all over the country gathered to ensure a lively trade for the 2,000 ewe lambs and 1,000 ewe hoggets on offer. Prize winners in the hogget section sold for €180-200. The general run for the rest was from €140-170, while lighter types sold back to €120. Quality ewe lambs fit for breeding ranged from €130-160. Prize winners made up to €200. Lighter lots sold for €80-120. They are having a second Mule sale on Saturday, September 14.

Meanwhile, the West of Ireland Suffolk society is holding a pedigree ram sale on Friday, where all rams being offered are eligible for STAP.

A huge entry of 4,200 sheep at Carnew Mart saw butcher and factory lots easier by €1-2/hd but there was a very strong trade for store lambs and ewe lambs. Breeding ewes were up slightly with the ewe hoggets selling for €105-155. Stores sold between €42-82 or €27-43 with the weight. Ewe lambs made from €72-130. Cull ewes ranged from €25-91.

Prices were easier across the board at Enniscorthy Mart by €2-3/hd. Butcher lambs were selling for €95-105 or €45-57 over the weight. Mountbellew also had large numbers on offer. Lambs were a slightly easier trade to the previous week, as were the cull ewes. There was good demand for quality lots of breeding stock, with first crop ewes making up to €140.

Buyers were very active for the 2,500 sheep on offer at Baltinglass Mart. Ewe lambs made from €40-60 over their weight. Stores weighing 30-40kg made €30-40 over the €/kg.

Dowra Mart had 1,500 ewe hoggets on offer on Friday last. The general run of hoggets made from €110-150 each with the top pens and the prizewinners making from €140 to a top of €190.

Store lambs in Ballymote were making from €30-37 over the weight.

Irish Independent