The lamb trade is a bit like what the Munster scrum minus Paul O'Connell was like last Friday night on their own five-metre line: under pressure but managing to hold out.
A lack of supplies is helping the lambs, while Northampton folk might be thinking a lack of belief was their undoing in Limerick. Unfortunately, however, the quotes have slipped slightly in most of the plants. Some are back by 5c/kg while others are down 10c/kg.
Moyvalley is the only factory to have remained at last week's levels with its all-in 450c/kg, which puts it more or less at the top for today. Kildare Chilling and Kepak Athleague share the lead with their base quote of 445c/kg plus the bonus. ICM Navan, Kepak Hacketstown and Dawn Ballyhaunis are all on 440c/kg plus the bonus. ICM Camolin's quote was for yesterday only, and it is not killing again until Thursday.
None of the plants are complaining about large numbers of lambs coming in, while a few of them are admitting that supplies are tight.
There is no easing in the trade for cull ewes. Kildare Chilling has increased its quote by a massive 30c/kg to a top of 270c/kg. The Kepak and ICM plants remain unchanged on a strong 240c/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis is offering 220c/kg, while Moyvalley is quoting 200c/kg.
Sheep farmers should remember to complete and return last year's census form by this Friday. This is important in terms of direct payments, such as the Single Farm Payment, compensatory allowances and the new sheep grassland payment, which will be paid for the first time this year.
Trade for lamb remained unchanged, according to Bord Bia, with market demand steady and ongoing tight supplies helping to maintain the trade. Quotes for lambs at export meat plants were in the range of 450-455c/kg, with quotes of 430- 440c/kg reported for the light lambs as volumes remain tight. The cull ewe trade remains buoyant, with quotes of 240c/kg reported.
For the week ending January 16, total sheep supplies at export meat plants reached 39,400hd, some 6,100 below the same week last year. However, sheep throughput has increased by 5,500 on the levels of previous weeks.
In Britain, trade at the live markets remains steady as supplies stay tight. By the end of the week the average new season SQQ price stood at the equivalent of 480c/kg including VAT in England and Wales, despite sterling strengthening somewhat.
In France, demand for lamb has eased slightly this week due to beef and pork promotions commencing at retail level. Irish Grade 1 lambs delivered to Paris generally made in the region of 515c/kg including VAT.