Sheep trade: Concerns raised at ‘unworkable interpretation’ of the Clean Livestock Policy

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) sheep chairman, John Brooks has deep reservations about the roll out of the Clean Livestock Policy, as processors threaten to turn sheep away from Monday (February 5).

“The ICSA understands that from Monday (February 5) a huge clampdown will come into effect, with meat factories refusing to accept sheep and lambs they consider dirty.”

Brooks outlined that he was calling on Minister Creed and his department to pull back on an unworkable and overly strict interpretation of this policy and to instead opt for a more reasoned approach.

Speaking last week, he said: “There has been a deficit of information from the Department of Agriculture regarding this policy from the outset. The images of Category B sheep that were issued are almost indistinguishable from those in Category C.

At the very least there should have been live demonstrations held on farms or at meat plants to eliminate any confusion for everyone involved.

“It is outrageous that lambs that were perfectly acceptable this week, will be blocked next week. All the blame has unfairly been put onto the farmer,” he explained.

He also outlined that there needs to be a more planned approach when it comes to this issue.

“The reality is that Teagasc has a role to play, processors have a role to play and the department has a role to play. There needs to be a more planned approach to this and for solutions to be found with the coordinated efforts of all.

“In addition, we have no information about what will happen to animals that are turned away, bearing in mind that owners may be hundreds of miles away from the meat plants. What we do know is that it has the potential to significantly impact the sheep farmer financially,” he concluded.

What are the factories offering this week?

This week, processors are currently offering 490c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonuses) for lambs. Kildare Chilling is offering an all-in price of 500c/kg (490c/kg + 10c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus).

Kepak Athleague is also currently offering 495c/kg and a Quality Assurance Scheme bonus of 5c/kg. Irish Country Meats is quoting an all-in price of 500c/kg (490c/kg + 10c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus).

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 495c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Factory agents are currently offering 280-290c/kg for well-fleshed ewes.

Supply update

Lamb throughputs at Department of Agriculture approved plants stood at 42,045 for the week ending January 28. That’s a decrease of 2,359 head or 5.3% on the week before and a 0.42% decrease when compared to the corresponding period during 2016.

Cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings also decreased by 1,606 head or 17.4% to reach 7,626 head.

In addition, overall supplies decreased by 3,958 head or 7.4%. Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 212,544 head. This is an increase of 3.9% or 8,288 head compared to the same period in 2016.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending January 28):
  • Lambs: 42,045 head (-2,359 head or -5.3%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,626 head (+1,606 head or -17.4%);
  • Total: 49,678 head (-3,958 head or -7.4%).
Source: Department of Agriculture

Mart trade round up

Tullow Mart

A large entry of sheep was witnessed at Tuesday’s (January 30) sale in Tullow Mart, Co. Carlow. Trade was steady for well-fleshed hoggets, while cast ewes were very much in demand.

Fat hoggets weighing 50kg+ made €114-122/head, while a couple of pens hit the €130/head mark. Well-fleshed hoggets (40kg+) traded at €106-115/head.

A full clearance was achieved on the day, according to the mart manager Eric Driver. Lighter store hoggets weighing between 37-42kg traded at €85-86/head. Hogget ewes, suitable for breeding, traded at €94-100/head and some lots pushed over the €100/head mark.

Cast ewe lots sold for €15-20 over, with fleshed ewes make up to €132/head.

On the day, there was a small number of in-lamb ewes on offer. Generally speaking, broken mouth ewes sold from €100/head, while ewes scanned in-lamb traded for €165/head.

Furthermore, ewes with lambs at foot traded for €148/head (singles). €225/head was achieved for full and broken mouth ewes with twin lambs at foot.

Mountbellew Mart

A small number of sheep were on offer at the weekly sheep sale held in Mountbellew Mart on Saturday.

A slight improvement in the price of hoggets was reported, while stag ewes also met with good trade. There were a number of customers in the market for ewes with lambs at foot.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 3 ewes: 46kg – €100/head;
  • 6 ewes: 38.8kg – €90/head;
  • 2 rams: 53kg – €107/head;
  • 10 rams: 45kg – €95/head.

A number of breeding ewes were also on offer; these lots were said to have met a brisk trade and a 100% clearance rate was achieved on the day.

Sample ewe prices:
  • First-crop ewes with single lambs : €195/head;
  • Hogget ewes with single lambs: €194/head;
  • Third-crop ewes with three lambs – €186/head.