Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

Week eight of price rises sees quotes hit 520c/kg

Joe Healy

Saints Patrick, Thomas and Brigid all enjoyed a good weekend and whoever sheep farmers have been praying to is also on form.

The upward trend continues for the eighth consecutive week with a 10-20c/kg improvement to the quotes since last Tuesday.

This sees quotes and prices over the two-month period rise by approximately €1/kg or €23/lamb, bringing it back up on a par to where they were at this time last year.

In fact, Kildare Chilling's base of 520c/kg is 5c/kg ahead of their base 12 months ago. They also have the two 5c/kg bonuses for Quality Assured lambs and the U grades. Dawn Ballyhaunis and Moyvalley are both offering an all-in 520c/kg, while their western neighbour, Kepak Athleague, is quoting 515c/kg plus the 5c/kg for the Us. Both ICM plants are on 510c/kg plus 6c/kg. Kepak Athleague and ICM are talking about quoting €6/kg for new season lambs but with the old season stock closing in on this price it is doubtful that any young lambs will be sold at this price. Carcase weights of 16-20kg are ideal while the lighter types killing out between 9-13kg are making €7.50/kg in Athleague. The IFA's Henry Burns said that factories are having to pay 550-560c/kg to secure stock from tight supplies. He added that the strong lift in the export market combined with the buoyant domestic market and limited supplies were all helping to drive the trade.

The ICM plants lead the way on 250c/kg for the cull ewes. Kepak Athleague and Kildare are quoting 240c/kg while Dawn are offering 235c/kg.

The sheep trade showed further improvement last week according to Bord Bia, as demand for in-spec lamb builds in the lead up to the Easter period. There is also some expectation that supplies will tighten on the domestic market.

Quotes for lambs by the end of the week were making between €5.05-5.10/kg with more reported to be available in some parts of the country. Prices paid for cull ewes also increased with prices quoted around €2.50/kg.

To date this year, sheep supplies are 33pc or 111,900 head higher.

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Trade across Britain improved significantly during the past week reflecting solid demand on the French market. By the weekend, 2012 lambs at live markets across England and Wales were making the equivalent of around €5.45/kg deadweight.

Trade firmed in France too as the market responds to better demand levels and less British product available to the market. The Irish Grade 1 lamb price was €5.58/kg by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the mid-season outlook released recently by Beef and Lamb New Zealand shows a slight downward adjustment in their export lamb production projections due to tighter than predicted supplies combined with lower carcase weights.

Looking ahead to the 2013/14 marketing season, New Zealand expects little change in the breeding flock this June at 20.32m head.

For the first four months of the 2012/13 marketing year, GTIS reported that total New Zealand sheepmeat exports were some 41pc higher on the previous marketing season at 115,700t. This would suggest that for the remainder of the season, shipments will slow down in response to tighter supplies. Shipments to the EU accounted for 44,200t per week during the same period.


The lamb prices continued to rise at the sheep marts around the country over the past week with an improvement of €5-8/hd being the norm. The weekly increases in the factories are feeding through the different categories in the marts with good lively demand for stores also.

Despite this the trade for in-lamb ewes or even ewes with lambs at foot continues to be rather sluggish. Maybe it is the harsh weather or lack of feed and growth.

Instead, well-fleshed lambs and cull ewes enjoy the best of the trade.

A big sale of 450hd down in Fermoy met with good demand. The heavier butcher-type lamb was selling between €110-130 or from €60-72 over the €/kg. Lambs of 40-48kg were making from €50-64 with their weight.

The best of the trade at Athenry mart saw €77 over the weight when €130 was paid for 53kg. The general run of heavy lambs made from €60-75 over.

A limited number of new-season lambs weighing 40kg sold for €122 or €82 over the €/kg. Cull ewes in the main traded between €55-118.

Carnew Mart had a big sale of 1,650 head of stock on offer with prices reported to be up by between €5-8/hd. Prices for butcher and factory lambs ran from €110-134 reflecting €65-80 over the €/kg. Stores sold for €68-110 or €45-70 with the weight. The best of the heavy cull ewes maxed out at a high of €145 with the rest selling from this back to €55 for the lighter lots for feeding. In-lamb ewes ranged from €120-140 while ewes with lambs at foot made from €120-200/unit.

Mountbellew had a smaller number of sheep on offer compared to the previous week, with increased demand for fleshy old season lambs making €5-8 extra. Cull ewes and store lambs met a steady trade. In-lamb ewes and ewes with lambs at foot were slightly back with farmers pointing to a grass shortage for the lack of demand. The over-50kg lots were generally selling from €115-130. The 40-50 kg types were making €80-117. Cull ewes sold for €68-108. Second crop ewes scanned to lamb singles in April sold for €115. Ewes with singles or twin lambs at foot ranged from €120-172.

A clearance sale of 200 blackface mountain ewes due to lamb to Suffolk rams in April sold for €60-120 at Dowra Mart. Lowland ewes with twin lambs at foot ranged from €150-200 while ewes with singles made between €100-150. Fleshy old season lambs sold at €100-117.

Irish Independent