Some 1,076 fewer sheep were slaughtered in approved export plants last week, figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show.

In total, for the week ending December 4, some 57,139 sheep were slaughtered in Irish plants, a decrease of 1.8% on the week ending November 27.

Official figures show that the majority of this fall occurred due to a drop in ewe and ram throughput, which declined by 12.8% or 1,268 head, while hogget throughput dropped by 71% to just 32 head.

Meanwhile, the number of lamb slaughterings increased during the week ending December 4 on the week before.


Source: Department of Agriculture

Some 38,431 lambs were slaughtered last week, up by 197 head or 0.4% on the week before.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -79 head (-71%)
  • Lambs: +197 head (+0.4%)
  • Ewes and rams: -1,268 head (-12.8%)
  • Total: -1,076 head (-1.8%)

Cumulative supplies up by 33,796 head

Official figures also show that the cumulative number of sheep slaughtered so far this year is up by 33,796 head or 1% on the corresponding period in 2015, with total slaughterings for the year sitting at 2.4m head.

A jump in both hogget and ewe and ram slaughterings make up the majority of this increase, with cumulative supplies up by 7% (42,444 head) and 25% (71,733 head) respectively.

Meanwhile, official figures show that the total number of spring lamb slaughterings has declined by 6% or 80,343 head on the same time in 2015.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: +42,444 head (+7%)
  • Lambs: -80,343 head (-6%)
  • Ewes and rams: +71,733 head (+25%)
  • Total: +33,796 head (+1%)

Lamb trade remains stable

The lamb trade remained relatively stable this week, with most procurement managers opting to stay at last week’s base quotes.

However, there is a considerable amount of variation in lamb quotes across the country, as a 10c/kg difference exists between the highest and lowest base quotes on offer.

Kepak Athleague continued to lead the way and  started negotiations with farmers at 465c/kg, this was closely followed by Kildare Chilling who worked off 460c/kg.

But the two Irish Country Meats plants, located in Navan and Camolin, offered the lowest base lamb quote of 455c/kg.

This year's crop of lambs

However, it must be noted that the price gap between the three processors narrows considerably when the Bord Bia Quality Assurance (QA) bonus is taken into account.

At present, Kepak Athleague is paying a 5c/kg top up on QA lambs, while both Kildare Chilling and ICM are 5c higher at 10c/kg.

This narrows the all-in price gap to just 5c/kg between the three sheepmeat processors.