Irish sheep slaughterings on track to reach an 11-year high

Official figures show that over 2.91 million sheep were slaughtered in Ireland up to the week ending December 24, 2017.

And, with a week’s worth of data still to be factored into the equation, there’s a distinct possibility that the number of sheep slaughtered in Ireland will reach an 11-year high.

Back in 2007, over 2.94 million sheep were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants. This is likely to be surpassed, as strong numbers of lambs were slaughtered during the final days of 2017.

However, the 2017 kill will fall short of the throughput numbers witnessed in 2006, when almost 3.15 million sheep were marketed through factories.

Irish sheep slaughterings:

  • 2017 (up to week 51): 2,911,571 head;
  • 2016: 2,671,405 head;
  • 2015: 2,590,109 head;
  • 2014: 2,599,039 head;
  • 2013: 2,616,000 head;
  • 2012: 2,431,283 head;
  • 2011: 2,171,242 head;
  • 2010: 2,147,578 head;
  • 2009: 2,454,706 head;
  • 2008: 2,593,869 head;
  • 2007: 2,944,052 head;
  • 2006: 3,148,251 head.

A closer look at the 2017 kill

As mentioned earlier, over 2.91 million sheep were slaughtered in Ireland up to the week ending December 24. When compared to the corresponding period in 2016, that’s a jump of 277,602 head or 11%.

Spring lambs accounted for the largest proportion of the kill, as over 1.6 million head were processed last year – a jump of 7% or 101,536 head on the number witnessed in 2016.

In addition, increases were also observed in hogget and cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings. An extra 125,540 hoggets were slaughtered in Irish plants last year, while cast throughput climbed by 13% or 50,599 head.

Graph source: Department of Agriculture

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (2017 versus 2016):
  • Hoggets: 807,599 head (+125,540 head or +18%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,662,344 head (+101,536 head or +7%);
  • Ewes and rams: 440,341 head (+50,599 head or +13%);
  • Total: 2,911,571 head (+277,602 head or +11%).

What are factories offering?

Despite strong supplies over the past 12 months, the demand for lambs remains relatively strong. Given this, many farmers are finding that an additional 5-10c/kg is achievable on top of current factory base quotes.

As it stands, factory buyers are offering all-in quotes (base price and QA bonus) of 480-500c/kg. However, a number of deals are being completed at 505-510c/kg.

Lamb quotes:
  • Kepak Athleague: 490c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 475c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 475c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Like previous weeks, the majority of processors are offering 270c/kg for suitable cast ewes.