‘If you can’t get a good price from the factory, go to the mart instead with your lambs’

“The marts are a very good outlet for lambs at the minute if factories are not willing to pay up,” according to Sean Dennehy, the sheep chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The factory trade for lambs has really come alive these past few weeks, with base quotes jumping 10-20c/kg last week and by 10c/kg in some cases this week.

The mart trade is also flying with butcher, factory and store lambs all trading very strongly these past few weeks.

Speaking to AgriLand yesterday, Sean said: “The trade is very positive at the moment. Top deals of €5.50-5.60/kg are being secured for lambs at the factory at the moment.

The mart trade on the other hand is way ahead [of the factories]. I was talking to a couple of farmers yesterday and what they were getting in the marts for their lambs would be the equivalent of factories paying €5.70/kg for them.

“There is very good competition at the marts. The factories are not inclined to pay the higher price in comparison to what the lambs are making at the mart. Butchers and wholesalers, over the last while, have been very active across marts and they are helping the trade as well.

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“If you can’t get a good price from the factories I would be telling farmers to go to the mart with their lambs and take their chance there. The marts are a good outlet for all classes of sheep at the moment.”

‘Continue to move lambs as they become fit’

Sean encouraged farmers to make sure that they continue to draft their lambs as they become fit and to avoid sending under-finished lambs to the factory.

He added: “It’s important that farmers continue to move lambs as they become fit and to make sure that no under-finished lambs are sent to the factory and, instead, have them sent to the mart.

There’s a good demand for forward stores and for lambs that need a bit more feeding to get them over the line for the factory.

“You are only going to undermine the whole thing for everyone if under-finished lambs are being brought through the [factory] system.

“In terms of the cull ewe trade, I heard of sellers getting up to €2.90/kg for ewes at the factory. €2.70-2.90/kg seems to be run of the trade, at the top end of the scale.

“I think the ewe trade is going to kick on a bit over the next while. Both ewes and finished lambs are scarce.

“Overall, the sheep trade is very positive and, as a whole, it’s been a good year for sheep farmers,” Sean concluded.