Sheep trade: ‘Agents told gather everything and don’t let anything slip’

Like the beef processing plants, it was business as usual at the sheep factories yesterday (March 5). Processors were forced to ‘close up shop’ due to the adverse weather experienced late last week and over the weekend.

This week, processors are currently offering 540c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonuses) for hoggets. When Quality Assurance and producer group bonuses are factored into the equation, it brings the prices achieved by farmers closer to the 550c/kg mark.

Ewe prices have remained steady and this week factory agents are currently offering 290c/kg for well-fleshed ewes.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy outlined that there is a strong market demand and tight supplies are driving the trade.

With Easter on the first week of April, factories are looking to procure supplies at this stage.

“There is some pent up demand in the trade due to the weather problems of last week. The message from factories to agents is to gather everything they can and don’t let anything slip by,” he explained.

Supply Update

Hogget throughput at Department of Agriculture approved plants stood at 42,292 for the week ending February 25. That’s an increase of 3,683 head or 9.5% on the week before and a 4.6% increase when compared to the corresponding period during 2017.

Cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings also increased by 662 head or 9% to reach 7,986 head.

In addition, overall supplies increased by 4,347 head or 9.5%. Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 408,515 head. This is an increase of 2.5% or 9,846 head compared to the same period in 2017.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending February 25):
  • Hoggets: 42,292 head (+3,683 head or +9.5%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,986 head (+662 head or +9%);
  • Total: 49,678 head (+4,347 head or 9.5%).
Source: Department of Agriculture

Mart trade

Kilkenny Mart

Small numbers were reported at Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Monday (March 5). And, according to the mart’s George Candler, some farmers are still finding travelling conditions challenging.

At yesterday’s sale, hoggets peaked at €135/head. Butcher hoggets sold for €2.35-2.60/kg or €115-135/head, while factory hoggets sold for €2.35-2.45/kg or €96-110/head.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 57kg: €135 or €2.37/kg;
  • 55kg: €134 or €2.44/kg;
  • 48kg: €115 or €2.40/kg;
  • 46kg: €110 or €2.39/kg;
  • 45kg: €108 or €2.40/kg;
  • 44kg: €108 or €2.45/kg.

In addition, cast ewes sold for €60-125/head.

Raphoe Mart

An excellent trade at Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal was reported by the mart’s manager, Anne Harkin.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 30-36kg: €80-90/head;
  • 36-40kg: €90-100/head;
  • 40-45kg: €100-112/head;
  • 45-50kg: €112-120/head;
  • 50-56kg: €120-134.50/head.

On the day, ewes with one lamb at foot sold for €150-188/unit, while ewes with two lambs at foot traded for €200-272/unit. Furthermore, fat ewes made €80-146/head.