Positivity returns to sheep trade

Bord Bia’s latest market update indicates that the sheep trade remains strong recently with a further uplift in prices and tight supplies continuing.

It said tight supply in the UK has helped trade while on the continent, trade remains steady.

According to Bord Bia, base quotes for lamb are making between €4.90/kg and €4.95/kg last week and set to break the €5/kg this week. Prices paid for cull ewes are making between €2.10/kg and €2.20/kg.

Supplies for the week ending 9 March stood at 36,210, which was down around 5,675 head or 14 per cent down on the corresponding period in 2013. Cumulative supplies are back nine per cent to 407,773 compared to 2013 figures.

Bord Bia said in the UK, trade edged upwards on the back of tight supplies combined with increased demand. The SQQ live price for lambs in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €5.45/kg deadweight towards the end of the week.

According to Bord Bia in France, the market was reported as busy this week with the return to school after the holidays. It said there are steady volumes of Lacaune lambs available at competitive prices.

Bord Bia added at the moment trade is being helped by promotional activity. It is expected that the market will remain firm for the coming weeks and should pick up in advance of the Easter period.

It said prices for Irish Grade 1 lamb in France were continuing to make around €5.24/kg (inclusive of VAT) during the week.

In Northern Ireland (NI) the Livestock and Meat Commission report in its latest update that quotes from the plants this week for R3 grading hoggets were 420-430p/kg up to 22kg with similar quotes expected for next week.

It said throughput of hoggets has continued to decline in line with seasonal trends with 5,042 killed in NI plants last week. A further 7,158 hoggets were exported for direct slaughter plants in the Republic of Ireland.

The LMC also report hoggets being presented for slaughter are generally well covered with 82 per cent of price reported hoggets last week achieving a 3 or 4 for fat cover compared to 73 per cent in the corresponding week last year. It said the average deadweight hogget price in NI last week increased by 18.8p/kg to 412.9p/kg while the price in GB increased by 1p/kg to 423.4p/kg.

Image: Sheep in mart. Photo O’Gorman Photography