Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

Surprise lift in sheep prices

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Fierce competition between wholesalers, exporters and factory buyers has resulted in an unexpected surge in sheep prices.

Prices for cull ewes and store lambs were at an unprecedented high last week. Tight supplies have created extra demand for the sheep on offer, which is driving prices even though returns are usually slipping at this time of the year.

Prices at some marts are running €15-20/hd ahead of last year, even using conservative figures.

Carnew mart manger David Quinn said store lambs generally made €30-45 over the weight, with up to €45 and even €50 over being paid for nice ewe lambs.

"Last year, €30 over the weight would have been the talk of the country," said Mr Quinn. "It's tremendous to see the hardcore mid-season lamb producers get a bite of the cherry."

Heavy cull ewes sold for €90-125/hd at Carnew, while very light ewes sold for more than €50/hd.

"For a ewe to make under €50/hd, she would have to be a bag of bones on three legs," said Mr Quinn.

"There was a very active demand, and competition between live exporters and the factories," he added.

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In Enniscorthy, store lambs sold for €67-78/hd, or €33-42 over the weight, while some good ewe lambs made €45 over.


"Demand for cull ewes was very strong, at prices of €48-115/hd," said mart manager Toddy O'Brien. Butcher and factory lamb prices rose by €3-5/hd to €81-98/hd, or €41-49 over the weight.

Athenry Mart manager Alan Barry said the trade for store lambs was fantastic last week, at prices of €42-43 over the weight. Lambs of more than 50kg made up to €50 with the weight and a few ewe lambs made €70 over the weight.

Mr Barry said the cull ewe trade was superb, mainly due to the live export trade. Cull ewes sold for an average of €113-114/hd, with top prices of €130/hd.

"The main driver is the lack of sheep numbers, but the live export trade and wholesale demand is high," said Mr Barry.

Store ewes at Tullow Mart also met a very strong trade, at prices of €73-74 over the weight in general and some top prices of €48 over the weight.

Tullamore Mart recorded prices of €67-115/hd for cull ewes, while store lambs sold for €48-52 over the weight.

Irish Independent