Spring lamb trade steadies but supplies look set to rise

The spring lamb trade has steadied considerably with most factories now sitting on a base price of 460c/kg.

Last week, a number of sheep processors increased the base price of spring lambs by 10c/kg in a bid to bring in more numbers.

Back in early August, most factories were operating off a base price of 450c/kg and as a result the number of lambs brought forward for slaughter dropped.

The cast ewe trade has also remained similar to last week and farmers selling factory fit ewes can expect to be quoted 230-240c/kg for these lots.

Base spring lamb price:
  • ICM Camolin: 460c/kg
  • ICM Navan: 460c/kg
  • Kildare Chilling: 460c/kg
  • Kepak Athleague: 460c/kg

According to the Department of Agriculture, almost 35,500 spring lambs were slaughtered in factories during the week ending August 7.

This is a fall of 9,144 head compared to the week earlier or a drop of 14,045 head over a two week period.

Official figures also show that there has been a fall in hogget slaughterings, with throughput down by 152 head compared to the week earlier.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -152 head (-48%)
  • Spring lambs: -9,144 head (-20.5%)
  • Ewes and rams: +1,571 head (+20.8)
  • Total: -7,725 head (-14.7%)

Despite a fall in spring lamb throughput in recent weeks, procurement managers seemed confident that supplies would pick up this week.

One buyer said that this week’s numbers look good as there are more lambs booked in for slaughter in the early part of this week compared to last week.

However, another procurement manager added that the sheep trade continues to remain difficult and the a weaker Sterling is not helping the trade with the UK.

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British sheep trade has improved due to a decrease in supply coupled with a rise in demand from the key export markets.

Last week, the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales stood at 498c/kg deadweight, up by 7c/kg compared to the week before.

There has also been some improvement witnessed in the French sheep trade, it says. This improvement has been driven by higher demand due to the national holiday and improved weather conditions.

It also says that French retail promotions are plentiful, focusing mainly on imported and domestically produced steaks, legs and chops.