Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

We must bargain hard for best price

Joe Healy

Sheep farmers will be happy to know that the clocks were the only thing that went back in the past week. Lamb quotes have remained steady at a base of 435c/kg for the fourth week in a row and continue to run at about 5c/kg below last year's levels.

It is imperative that farmers bargain hard for a higher quote than that first offered, because prices of 455-460c/kg are being secured by those who argue.

The majority of lambs are being sold for 450-455c/kg but a top price of 460c/kg has been negotiated when all bonuses are included.

Moyvalley Meats is the only plant different to the rest and it is still offering an all-in quote of 450c/kg. Elsewhere, Kildare Chilling is the best of the rest by virtue of its extra 5c/kg Quality Assurance bonus on top of the 5c/kg U grade bonus. It has the same base quote of 435c/kg as the rest of the plants.

Commenting on the trade, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said farmers were becoming disgruntled and frustrated at the negative attitude of the processors at a time when French prices remain strong and British processors were paying over 470c/kg to their suppliers.

He added that returns needed to increase to cover the extra 20-30c/kg in meal costs that farmers had incurred in finishing lambs this year.

Cull ewe quotes have also retained the status quo. Kildare Chilling continues to set the pace with its 185c/kg quote. The two ICM plants and Kepak Hacketstown are offering 180c/kg. Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis remain on 170c/kg.

To date this year, sheep supplies at meat export plants are running around 10pc or 192,000hd higher at 2.09m head, Bord Bia stated. This is a huge increase year on year and it is positive that the market has absorbed it fairly seamlessly.

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Trade in Britain remained broadly similar to the previous week, despite some fall in supplies being marketed as market demand dipped following the Muslim festival of Eid.


Meanwhile, the lamb trade held well at the marts around the country over the past week. Fleshed lambs were in strong demand both from factories and butchers and this continued yesterday at Athenry and Fermoy. Despite the very wet conditions, there is still a lot of grass available on farms and this has helped the trade for the store lambs.

Quality pens of ewe lambs also sold well. Breeding ewes and hoggets were nothing to get excited about, with even the best of the hoggets struggling to hit the €130/hd mark.

However, one mart manager did point out that at this stage most of the quality stock have been traded with the serious lowland farmers having their buying and selling done.

Heavy lambs hit a high of €59 over the weight at Athenry Mart yesterday, with €110 paid for 51kg butcher lambs. Good lambs over 47kg sold for €48-59 with the €1/kg. Lambs weighing 37-47kg sold for €38-45 over the weight, while lighter types sold for €30-40 over. The top price in Fermoy was €58 over the €1/kg, with 52kg lambs selling for €110. Most of the heavy fleshed lambs sold for €46-56 with the weight.

There were 3,000 sheep on offer at Carnew Mart where prices improved by €2-3/hd. Butcher and factory lambs sold for €89-107. Stores sold for €72-88 each. Strong demand saw ewe lambs sell for €75-110.

The sheep trade continued very strong for the 2,850 sheep on offer at Dowra Mart. The best pens of store lambs sold for €65-85, while the lighter pens traded for €40-65 each. Heavy cull ewes sold for €60-85 and feeding ewes sold for €30-55 each.

Trade at Baltinglass Mart was similar to the previous week for lambs but cull ewes were a little easier and sold for €30-75. Lambs weighing 35-45kg sold for €60-80, while lighter types traded at €40-60.

Blackface ewes with mixed mouths and suitable for breeding sold for €21-58 out in Maam Cross. Ewe hoggets sold to a top price of €102.

The majority of crossbred lambs moved at €30-68, with the best pen hitting a top price of €88/hd. Blackface wether and ram lambs sold for €18-44/hd.

Breeding rams sold for €65-150 in the main, with up to €500 paid for top quality rams.

Breeding ewes topped out at €190 at Mayo/Sligo Mart. The best of the lambs on offer sold for up to €105/hd, while stores sold for €40-70.

Irish Independent

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