Cuts of 40-50c are being imposed on the base price of overweight lambs, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara said he is outraged “at the new low to which factories have stooped” with the introduction of new penalties on lambs over 21.5kg.

McNamara said: “It has come to our attention that severe penalties are now being applied to so-called overweight lambs.

“Not only will lambs above the 21.5kg mark not be paid out on the excess weight, but they are also now being cut on the base price. This is effectively introducing a lamb pricing grid, without consultation, and is an absolute disgrace.”

Commenting further, McNamara said: “Cuts of 40c to 50c are being imposed on the base price for lambs above 21.5kg.

You could be hit for over €10 a lamb at this rate – and that’s on top of prices being way down over the course of the last year.

“For too long factories have gotten away with refusing to pay out over a certain weight and have profited significantly from doing so.

“They have essentially been taking product for free and selling it on. Imposing this extra penalty is just adding insult to injury,” McNamara claimed.

“Not only this, but lambs coming in under the 21.5kg mark with a U4 or R4 fat rating are also being hit with a 40c penalty.”

The sheep chairman added that loading penalties on top of other penalties is “totally unacceptable” and something that factories “should not be allowed to get away with it”.

“It is an outrageous way to treat loyal suppliers who have turned up at factory gates this week, only to be hit with these over-the-top cuts,” McNamara concluded.