Spring lamb price improves as processors try to secure supplies

Spring lamb supplies have eased somewhat in recent weeks, as farmers have opted to hold onto their lambs rather than offloading them at lower factory prices.

Last week, procurement managers decided to increase spring lamb quotes by 5c/kg in a bid to secure supplies.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Sheep Committee chairman, John Lynskey, said that finished lamb supplies are much tighter. This is as a result of a number of weeks of large kills, together with bad weather and lack of thrive.

Farmers with fit lambs should bargain hard and insist on a good bonus over the quoted prices on offer from the factories.

This week, another improvement has been witnessed in the spring lamb trade and factory buyers have opted to increase quotes by 5-10c/kg, in an effort to entice farmers to market their animals.

Processors are currently offering 450-465c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonuses) for spring lambs.

Kildare Chilling leads the way with an all-in price of 475c/kg (465c/kg + 10c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus) – a 5c/kg increase on last week’s price.

Kepak Athleague has also added 5c/kg onto last week’s quotes and is currently offering 460c/kg and a Quality Assurance Scheme bonus of 5c/kg.

However, Irish Country Meats has added 10c/kg onto its price this week and is currently quoting an all-in price of 460c/kg (450c/kg + 10c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus).

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 465c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 460c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 450c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 450c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Despite the increase in spring lamb quotes, ewe prices have remained unchanged from last week and buyers are offering 240c/kg to secure stock.

Source: Bord Bia


Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that there was a significant decrease in the total number of sheep slaughtered during the week ending October 22.

In total, some 54,431 sheep were processed in approved export plants – a decrease of 12,379 head or 18.5% on the previous week.

There was also a significant decrease in the number of spring lambs processed – 45,223 were slaughtered – a decrease of 8,986 or 16.5% . Likewise, some 69 fewer hoggets were slaughtered during the week ending October 22.

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 2.33 million head, up 10% or 208,000 head when compared to the same period in 2016.

Year to date supplies of hoggets are up 18%, while cull ewes and rams are up 14%. Spring lambs so far this year are up 4% on the corresponding period during 2016.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending October 22):
  • Hoggets: 50 head (-69 head or -57%);
  • Spring lambs: 45,223 head (-8,986 head or -16.5%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,064 head (-3,298 head or -26.6%);
  • Total: 54,431 head (-12,379 head or -18.5%).

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, in Britain, the trade has shown some increase due to a decrease in throughputs last week.

The SQQ (standard quality quotation) live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around 422c/kg (deadweight).

Moving to France, Bord Bia says, trade remained relatively steady last week, with little significant change reported. Trade was slower particularly for legs and shoulders due to the milder weather.

No retail promotions took place last week. Grade one Irish spring lamb prices were making around 488c/kg during the early part of the week.