Spring lamb quotes under pressure for another week

As has been the case over the previous few weeks, spring lamb base quotes continue to remain under pressure in plants across the country.

As it stands, the majority of major lamb buyers are offering 450-460c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance (QA) bonuses) for suitably-fleshed lambs.

Kildare Chilling currently leads the way with an offering of 460c/kg +10c/kg QA, Kepak Athleague is offering 455c/kg +5c/kg QA – down 5c/kg on last week – and the two Irish Country Meats’ sister plants are working off 450c/kg +10c/kg QA.

It’s worth noting – that in some instances – farmers are holding out for more and reports are circulating of deals being done at 470-480c/kg.

In addition, ewe quotes remain pretty much unchanged from last week and buyers are starting negotiations with farmers are 240-250c/kg for suitable lots.

Clean Livestock Policy enforcement

Meanwhile, issues surrounding the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) are beginning to emerge once again. Last week’s wet and windy weather looks likely to intensify the number of lambs falling into category B and category C of the policy.

This will especially be the case when lambs are being ‘box’ or ad-lib fed concentrates and poaching is occurring around troughs. Some factories have moved to begin clipping lambs and are charging 20c/head where this activity is deemed necessary.

A number of processors have mentioned that the enforcement of the policy is delaying killing in plants and ultimately – although necessary – is having a negative impact on daily throughput.

Also Read: ‘The daggers isn’t the answer for dirty sheep’


Procurement managers have pointed to sterling fluctuation and relatively strong supplies as the primary reasons for the relative weakness in the spring lamb market.

The latter appears to be true, as weekly sheep supplies stood at 70,219 head during the week ending September 16.

Throughput increases were witnessed in all of the categories of sheep; hogget numbers climbed 41 head, an additional 643 spring lambs were slaughtered and cast throughput (ewes and rams) climbed by 596 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending September 16):
  • Hoggets: 136 head (+41 head or +43.2%);
  • Spring lambs: 56,428 head (+643 head or +1.2%);
  • Ewes and rams: 13,655 head (+596 head or +4.6%);
  • Total: 70,219 head (+1,306 head or +1.9%).

Meanwhile, looking at the cumulative sheep kill for 2018, figures from the Department of Agriculture show that over 2.06 million sheep have been slaughtered in export approved sheepmeat plants this year.

Throughput increases were witnessed in the hogget and ewe and ram categories, while spring lamb throughput continues to run 25,646 head behind the numbers witnessed in 2017.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 828,641 head (+22,168 head or +3%);
  • Spring lambs: 886,050 head (-25,656 head or -3%);
  • Ewes and rams: 347,018 head (+52,092 head or +18%);
  • Total: 2,061,838 head (+47,985 head or +2%).