Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Tough sell secures 460c/kg purchase

Joe Healy

Even extra-time could not separate Kilcoo and Crossmaglen in the Ulster football championships last Sunday. The situation is being mirrored in the sheep trade, with lamb quotes from all the sheep factories virtually identical to each other for the past five weeks.

Not only that but it looks like they are also immovable, with a base quote of 435c/kg being repeated by most plants every week. This week is no different, with only Moyvalley Meats showing any variation. It has an all-in quote of 440c/kg, which is a drop of 10c/kg on last week.

This new lower price more or less brings the plant into line with the other factories, although Kildare Chilling, by virtue of its extra 5c/kg Quality Assurance bonus, is ahead of the rest for suitable stock.

I know I often advise farmers to bargain hard but at the moment it is more important than ever to do so. I am aware of one farmer who sold his lambs recently at the quoted figure of 435c/kg plus the bonus to 22kg. Another tougher seller managed to secure 460c/kg and up to 22.5kg carcase weight.

At that higher price, the second farmer achieved a gross price of €103.50, while the first farmer, the easy seller, grossed €96.80/lamb. That €6.70/lamb difference is too much money to lose out on, especially given how tight margins are in lamb production.

I should add that if you have a well fed lamb fit for slaughter, you have a very marketable animal and factories are quite anxious for this type at the moment. A number of lambs are being killed that should have been fed some meal for the past month or six weeks and are not killing out well.

If you are running tight on grass but feel that your lambs are not heavy enough to sell, there is some demand currently for lighter types killing out around 14-15kg with 460c/kg being paid for them.

IFA sheep chairman James Murphy described the lamb trade as more positive in recent days, with more factories paying €4.60/kg to get lambs. He said some plants had paid more money on higher weights of 22.5kg to procure larger lots.

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Ewes are also a more lively trade with €2.20/kg available. The store trade remains strong with many farmers still having a plentiful supply of grass cover.

Quotes for cull ewes have improved and this is normally a positive indicator.

Both ICM plants and Kildare have upped their offer to 200c/kg, which is a significant rise of between 15-20c/kg. A similar improvement from Dawn Ballyhaunis brings it up to 190c/kg while Kepak Hacketstown and Athleague remain on 180c/kg and 170c/kg respectively. Many farmers have held out for and been paid 220c/kg for their ewes and there is a rumour doing the rounds that 230c/kg has been secured.

Quotes for lamb remained unchanged at €4.35-4.45/kg but more was available for select lots.


Meanwhile, lambs fit for slaughter met a steady trade at the marts over the past week, generally making €45-52 over the €/kg. Forward store lambs sold for €38-45 with their weight. Lighter stores were reported to be a tad easier than in recent weeks, with prices back by €1-3/hd.

Most of the stores sold for €45-75, with mountainy types selling back to €18. Cull ewes showed little or no change, with the heavier lots selling for €65-95 while store ewes sold for €35-55 in the main.

The majority of ewe hoggets on offer sold for €100-125, with older breeding ewes making €80-105.

At Fermoy Mart yesterday, fleshed lambs sold for €45-50 over the weight with a top price of €54 over paid when a pen of 52kg lambs made €106/hd.

In Athenry, heavier lambs sold for €43-52 over the €/kg. Lighter types sold for €30-40 with the weight. Kilkenny Mart described the trade as slightly improved, with good demand across the board. Butcher lambs hit a high of €108 for 56kg or €52 over the weight. Prices were generally €48-52 with the €/kg for the 50kg and over lambs.

Mountbellew Mart had a smaller number of sheep on offer than the previous week and most categories met good demand. The best cull ewes sold for €84. Ewe hoggets peaked at €121. First crop ewes sold to €120.

The sheep trade was quieter at Dowra on Friday, where 3,000 sheep were offered for sale. The best store lambs sold for €65-80 while lighter stores made €30-60.

Heavy cull ewes made €60-80. Culls for further for feeding made €25-50 each.

At the 2,000-sheep at Baltinglass mart, store prices fell by €2-3/hd to €50-75. Heavy butcher types over 50kg made €90-105. Lambs weighing 40-45kg sold for €70-83 with ewe lambs making up to €90. Cull ewes made €35-78/hd.

At Maam Cross Mart, Blackface ewes with mixed mouths and suitable for breeding made €21-58 and hoggets made up to €110. Crossbred lambs sold for €30-68 with a top price of €86.

Carnew had a big sale of 3,600 sheep. Butcher and factory lambs met a steady trade, selling for €88-103. Lighter store lambs were easier by €2/hd, with stores overall making €55-87.

Breeding ewes at Mayo/Sligo Mart made up to €145 each. Fleshed lambs generally sold for €2/kg.

The majority of the breeding rams made €200-400.

Irish Independent