Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

'Soft-selling' farmers are still losing out amid solid trading


Joe Healy

Sheep farmers may not be in a position to bail out the western world but they are, nonetheless, continuing to enjoy a very satisfactory period as the trade remains solid.

Some sources were pointing to increasing supplies adding to price pressure this week but, for the moment, quotes and prices are steady and on a par with last week.

The table will tell you that five of the plants are on the same quotes, Kepak Hacketstown is down by 5c/kg and Moyvalley has upped its all-in quote by 5c/kg to 475c/kg.

With the reduction in Hacketstown, all of the processors are now on a base of 470c/kg plus the bonus. By virtue of the added bonus of 5c/kg for quality-assured lambs going into Kildare Chilling, the Lilywhites plant is probably tops with a total quote of 481c/kg for qualifying stock. ICM Camolin was only quoting for yesterday at the 470c/kg base plus 6c/kg. Kepak Athleague is also buying a few lighter-type lambs of 10-15kg carcass weights and is quoting 450c/kg.

From what I hear, more is being paid, but would need to be, as otherwise this figure is not a match for what those lambs would make in the marts at the moment, such is the strength of the store trade.

Despite how often I and many more advise farmers to bargain on price and weight, there are still a lot of lambs being sold at the minimum quote and carcass weight. I just wish farmers would stop and calculate how much they are losing by being soft sellers.

Some are selling for the 470c/kg plus 6c/kg to 22kg, while others are securing up to 490c/kg to 23kg. Those figures equate to €112 versus €104/ lamb -- a gain/loss of €8/animal.

At all times, no matter what we are selling, it is imperative that we maximise the value of our stock.

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The IFA's James Murphy said that some producer groups were getting an extra €2/lamb quality-assurance bonus. He added that the trade was strong, with prices of 480-490c/kg widely available and that the strong trade for lambs in the marts was keeping a floor under the factory prices.

Quotes for the cull ewes range from a low of 230c/kg in Moyvalley up to the normal run of 270c/kg on offer from Kildare Chilling, Kepak Hacketstown and the ICM plants. Both western factories are on 250c/kg.

The sheep trade remained steady last week, according to An Bord Bia, as supplies on the domestic market held relatively tight combined with domestic market demand recovering somewhat.

Quotes for spring lambs for most of the week remained unchanged at €4.75kg with reports of more being available. The cull trade was firm, with prices typically still making €2.50-2.80/kg.

On a year-to-date basis, sheep supplies are running 5pc higher than the corresponding period last year.

In Britain, despite supplies increasing, trade was helped by the euro strengthening against the pound as the week progressed.

By the weekend, live market prices stood at the equivalent of €4.94/kg including VAT for new-season lambs.

In France, the trade improved somewhat on the back of increased demand in the run up to the Ramadan festival.

Prices for Irish grade one spring lamb were reported to be making €5.21/kg inclusive of VAT by the end of the week.

Indo Farming