‘Farmers producing spring lamb are getting a raw deal’

Farmers producing spring lamb are getting a raw deal by not receiving the proper information to make informed decisions and strategically plan for production, ICSA Sheep Chairman John Brooks has said.

Brooks has said that sheep farmers producing spring lamb are getting increasingly frustrated at the confused market demand signals coming from the retail sector.

He said that advice from Teagasc and Bord Bia is, perhaps, either insufficient or no longer up-to-date when we see supermarkets using hoggets rather than spring lamb.

“Farmers who go to the effort and cost of producing spring lamb are no longer in tune with market signals when we see hogget being used in supermarkets later and later into the year before they switch to lamb.”

This year producers of spring lamb have had to rely on butchers to recognise the premium nature of the product on offer and their willingness to pay in excess of €7.00/kg.

“However, this industry cannot rely on the butcher sector alone.”

Brooks has called on Bord Bia, processors and retailers to come together and issue some up-to-date advice on markets available and particularly the optimum timing for new season lamb.

“If the advice is to produce lamb later then we have the scope for better planning. Either way, the situation cannot continue as is as there is simply no incentive for the spring lamb producer to go to all the extra effort and investment with such uncertain outcomes.

“Teagasc needs to review its advice on the economics of early lamb production systems when hogget prices suggest that late lambing is possibly a more profitable system, particularly on moderately stocked farms,” he said.