Fears have been raised that ‘dirty’ lambs or sheep falling into Category C (unacceptable) of the Clean Livestock Policy will be turned away from factory gates over the coming days.

The move comes as Department of Agriculture vets are ramping up the implementation of the much talked about policy at sheep plants across the country.

Under law, a sheep that has entered onto a slaughtering facility is not allowed to exit the premises alive. However, AgriLand understands that a number of processors are considering examining lambs prior to entry to see if they fall within the desired remits of the policy.

If deemed unacceptable for slaughter, farmers transporting full loads of lambs face the risk of being turned away (to unload such sheep) before returning with Category A (satisfactory) and Category B (acceptable) stock for slaughter.

Poor weather conditions of late have resulted in a spike in the number of ‘dirty’ sheep being presented for slaughter. With further wintry conditions expected over the coming days, the problem is likely to intensify further.

If such a move comes into play, there is likely to be an increase in the number of lambs being marketed through marts over the coming days.

What are factories paying?

As it stands, the majority of processors are offering 480-485c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance bonuses) to secure suitable lambs for slaughter.

Some farmers, especially those with large numbers of ‘clean’ sheep to market’, are finding that 5c/kg is available on top of the factories’ current offerings.

Factory base quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 485c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 485c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 480c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 480c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Like last week, ewe prices have remained largley unchanged and most processors are offering base quotes of 280c/kg for suitable lots.


Moving to supplies, some 53,635 sheep were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved export plants during the week ending January 21 – a fall of 4,063 head or 7% on the previous week.

A 4,832-head decline in lamb slaughterings accounted for a large proportion of this drop, as just 44,404 lambs were slaughtered during the third week of this month. However, cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings actually increased by 775 head or 9.2% to reach 9,232 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending January 21):
  • Lambs: 44,404 head (-4,832 head or -9.8%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,232 head (+775 head or +9.2%);
  • Total: 53,635 head (-4,063 head or -7%).

The marts

Kilkenny Mart

Last Monday’s sale in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, featured a small entry of sheep. According to the mart’s George Candler, a sharp selling trade was realised on the day.

Butcher lambs sold for €1.90-2.25/kg, he said, factory lambs made €2.20-2.30/kg and store lambs traded for €2.15-2.25/kg.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 62kg: €119 or €1.92;
  • 56kg: €120 or €2.14/kg;
  • 47kg: €106 or €2.26/kg;
  • 46kg: €105 or €2.28/kg;
  • 41kg: €92 or €2.24/kg;
  • 38kg: €86 or €2.21/kg.

A number of cast ewes were also on offer and these lots sold for €70-130/head.

Raphoe Mart

There were plenty of buyers present at Raphoe Mart’s weekly sheep sale on Monday last and a strong trade for all sheep was recorded.

Store lambs (30-34kg) sold for €65-75, forward stores (37-43kg) made €85-90 and fat lambs (50-55kg) traded at €105-117.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 35kg: €85 or €2.43/kg;
  • 39kg: €92 or €2.36/kg;
  • 44kg: €100 or €2.27/kg;
  • 48kg: €108.50 or €2.26/kg;
  • 51kg: €117 or €2.29/kg.

A number of ewes with lambs at foot were also on offer and these lots traded for €160-180 (singles) and €220-250 (twins). The cast ewes on offer made €60-136.

Maam Cross Mart

Sheep numbers were up in Maam Cross Mart’s weekly sale on Saturday last and prices held well when compared to the previous week’s sale.

Blackface and crossbred lambs sold for an average price of €49, while a pen of Blackface ewe lambs topped the trade at €100. A selection of dry ewes was also on offer and mountain-type Blackface ewes sold for €25-30.

Mountbellew Mart

A similar number of lambs and cast ewes were on offer in Saturday’s sale in Mountbellew Mart, Co. Galway. Cast ewes met with a brisk trade – especially for the heavier lots – and prices stood at €78-126.

A number of ewes with lambs at foot were also on offer and third-crop ewes with single and twin lambs sold for €151 and €185 respectively.

Moving away from ewes, lambs met with a similar trade to the previous week and demand was strong for heavy/fleshed lots.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 51.8kg: €103 or €1.99/kg;
  • 45kg: €95 or €2.11/kg;
  • 41.8kg: €89 or €2.13/kg;
  • 44kg: €94 or €2.14/kg;
  • 47.3kg: €107 or €2.26/kg;
  • 49.2kg: €104 or €2.11/kg.