Wintry conditions fail to ‘chill’ lamb prices

The country is currently grasped by a cold spell. However, the wintry conditions of late have yet to put a ‘chill’ on lamb prices.

This week, procurement managers have maintained base quotes at last week’s levels. The majority of lamb buyers are now offering base quotes of 475-485c/kg to secure supplies.

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kepak Athleague: 485c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 485kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 475c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 475c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Despite base quotes remaining unchanged, farmers are continuing to dig out 10-15c/kg above what is being offered by processors.

Prices of 500-510c/kg are widely achievable; some finishers with larger numbers are also edging closer to the 515-520c/kg mark.

Ewe prices also continue to remain in a positive position and, for the most part, factories are offering 270c/kg for suitable lots.

Supplies

There was a slight increase in the number of sheep slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants during the week ending December 3.

In total, some 66,385 sheep were processed – an increase of 1.8% (1,174 head) on the previous week. This was driven by a jump in spring lamb slaughterings, as throughput jumped by 1.8% or 985 head.

In addition, cast slaughterings (ewes and rams) also rose during the week ending December 3. Official figures show that 9,254 head of these were slaughtered – a climb of 306 head or 3.4% on the previous week.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending December 3):
  • Spring lambs: 57,056 head (+985 head or +1.8%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,254 head (+306 head or +3.4%);
  • Total: 66,385 head (+1,174 head or +1.8%).

Looking at the cumulative sheep kill for the year, official figures show that just over 2.7 million sheep have been processed thus far in 2017 – up by almost 250,000 head or 10% on the corresponding period in 2016.

Graph source: Department of Agriculture

All of the major categories of sheep have posted increases. Hogget throughput has climbed by 18%, the spring lamb kill has jumped by 5% and cast (ewe and ram) supplies are up by 13%.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 807,401 head (+125,510 head or +18%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,487,732 head (+77,238 head or +5%);
  • Ewes and rams: 412,998 head (+45,910 head or +13%);
  • Total: 2,709,415 head (+248,741 head or +10%).

The marts

Carnew Mart

Last Thursday’s sale in Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, featured a smaller entry of sheep; just 2,160 passed through the ring. For the most part, prices were unchanged from last week and good demand for all classes was reported.

Like last week, fat lambs continued to meet a strong trade, with lambs weighing more than 50kg trading for €108-113 and factory lambs (45-49kg) selling at €97-110. Moving on to stores, lambs over 35kg made €78-95 and the lighter classes (<35kg) sold for €65-84.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 54kg: €113 or €2.09/kg;
  • 52kg: €111 or €2.13/kg;
  • 47kg: €93.50 or €1.99/kg;
  • 42kg: €93.50 or €2.23/kg;
  • 33kg: €78 or €2.36/kg;
  • 34kg: €74 or €2.18/kg.

Although lambs accounted for the majority of the throughput in the Co. Wicklow venue, a considerable number of ewes went under the hammer. On the day, heavy ewes sold for €90-117, light cull ewes traded at €45-85 and in-lamb ewes made €140-150.

Mountbellew Mart

Like Carnew Mart, a smaller number of sheep were also on offer in Mountbellew Mart on Saturday (December 11).

The second last sheep sale of the year in the venue resulted in lambs meeting a firm trade. Prices in excess of €2/kg were widely achievable on the day. Ewe lambs also met a considerable demand and many lots broke the €2.15/kg barrier.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 58kg ram lambs: €110 or €1.90/kg;
  • 47.5kg weather lambs: €95 or €2/kg;
  • 46.5kg ewe lambs: €100 or €2.15/kg;
  • 47.1kg weather lambs: €97 or €2.06/kg;
  • 57.7kg ewe lambs: €115 or €1.99/kg;
  • 42kg ewe lambs: €95 or €2.26/kg.

Looking at the cast ewe trade, ewes met a similar demand to previous weeks. Demand was particularly strong for the heavier lots on offer and prices stood at €70-100.

Tullow Mart

Last Tuesday’s sale in Tullow Mart, Co. Carlow, featured a large entry of 1,500 sheep. Store lambs met a similar trade to previous weeks, while heavy lambs were €1-2/head easier.

Heavy lambs (>48kg) sold for €100 and up; the majority of these traded at €101-105. Forward stores (>44kg) made €94-100 and some of the well-presented ewe lambs sold for €105.

Store lambs (>35kg) also met a strong demand from farmers; the majority of the good, clean stores sold at €83-92. The lightest of the lambs on offer (30kg) made €72-78.

Looking at ewe prices, feeding-type ewes made €10-15 over and the best of the heavy classes sold for €125. A small entry of in-lamb ewes were also on offer and these sold for €140-165.

Roscommon Mart

A similar number of sheep were on offer on last Wednesday’s sale in Roscommon Mart. There was a steady trade for lambs and a top price of €111 was achieved on the day.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 62.2kg: €111 or €1.78/kg;
  • 51.4kg: €110 or €2.14/kg;
  • 49.6kg: €108 or €2.18/kg;
  • 43kg: €90 or €2.09/kg;
  • 40.1kg: €81 or €2.02/kg;
  • 39kg: €75 or €1.92/kg.

In addition, cast ewe prices stood at €50-120.

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