There is uncertainty building around the store lamb trade this year, as the cost of inputs, particularly concentrates, continues to rise.

Agriland spoke to a number of farmers recently, to get a sense about their outlook on the store lamb trade this year.

Some farmers, it seems, are debating what to do in the coming months with regards to buying in store lambs – the issue being if the costs of concentrates remains high (assuming there’s no issue surrounding availability).

One farmer in the west of the country told Agriland that he would buy in a couple hundred store lambs in a given year, but he is unsure what he will do this year.

He said: “Lambs that got away at Christmas time last year came into good money, as they ate very little meal and as the back end of the year came mild, which meant there was always grass in front of the lambs.

“However, the lambs that went into the shed at Christmas, the last of which were gone by March, required a substantial amount of meal and although didn’t lose money, [they] didn’t leave much after them and in cases broke even by the time meal bills were paid for.

“A bag of meal is at €14 now and who knows what it will be like at the back end of the year, with availability of it another possible issue.

“When you’d be finishing a couple of hundred lambs, the meal bill doesn’t be long adding up,” he added.

“It’s definitely going to be a sit-and-wait approach before making any decision. There’s many other factors that will have to be weighed up as well as the costs of concentrates as to whether it will be worth buying in stores to finish this back end.”