‘Farmers need €7/kg to make early spring lambs viable’

Farming organisations are disappointed with the first quotes offered by factories for spring lambs this year.

Irish Country Meats is the first processor to offer a quote for spring lamb, starting with a base price of €6.40/kg.

IFA Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey said the price being offered for spring lambs is similar to the price farmers received for hoggets this time last year.

According to Lynskey, farmers were offered €7/kg for spring lamb and €6.20/kg for hoggets in March 2015.

There is high cost involved in producing spring lambs. We thought the prices would have started at €7.00/kg, but there is no mention of this yet.

Lynskey also said that early spring lamb production is a high-cost system as the ewe has to be fed concentrates for a longer period of time and so farmers should be rewarded with a strong price.

He also said that the number of farmers producing lambs for the Easter market has dropped in recent years because of high costs and low returns.

“If the price opened up at €7/kg it would have a knock-on effect on the price of lamb for the rest of the summer,” he said.

ICSA’s Sheep Committee Chairman John Brooks said that €6.50/kg is not nearly enough for early spring lamb, as it is a very unique product. He said that farmers should be paid at least €7/kg for these lambs.

If the price does not improve in the next couple of weeks the early spring lamb industry could collapse.

Farmers producing these lambs should also be getting paid up to a 22kg carcass, he said, which would be some benefit to the farmer.