Lamb market heats up as Eid approaches

The Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha is scheduled to commence on August 21 and sheepmeat processors are beginning to source lambs in anticipation.

Over recent years, the festival has resulted in an increase in the demand for sheepmeat. It also leads to a spike in lamb slaughterings in Ireland.

After a difficult price period, processors are now ramping up their efforts to secure supplies and are offering higher base quotes as a result.

As it stands, the majority of plants are now offering 490-500c/kg for spring lambs – up 10c/kg on last week. Deals are also being done at higher levels and some finishers have secured base quotes of 510c/kg for spring lambs.

Despite the rise in spring lamb quotes, factories appear slow to up the ewe price. Many buyers are starting negotiations with farmers at 270c/kg – pretty much unchanged from last week.


Official figures show that sheep slaughterings increased by 3,081 head or 5.1% during the week ending July 22 when compared to the week previous.

Throughput increases were witnessed in the spring lamb and cast (ewe and ram) categories, while the number of hoggets processed continued to fall on a weekly basis.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 287 head (-154 head or -35%);
  • Spring lambs: 49,914 head (+908 head or +1.9%);
  • Ewes and rams: 13,183 head (+2,327 head or +21.4%);
  • Total: 63,384 head (+3,081 head or +5.1%).

In addition, figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database also show that over 1.5 million sheep were slaughtered in approved export plants this year – a climb of 1% or 13,104 head on the corresponding period in 2017.

Although spring lamb throughput is currently running 55,188 head behind 2017 levels, throughput increases were witnessed in the hogget and cast categories.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 827,155 head (+21,787 head or +3%);
  • Spring lambs: 441,860 head (-55,188 head or -11%);
  • Ewes and rams: 252,728 head (+49,926 head or +23%);
  • Total: 1,521,868 head (+13,104 head or +1%).

The marts

Kilkenny Mart

Some 500 sheep were on offer at Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, yesterday (July 30) and the mart’s George Candler said there was once again more life about the sheep trade.

Fleshed lambs and those in excess of 50kg were in demand, he said, due to the smaller supply on offer. On the day, factory lambs sold at €2.10-2.25/kg and stores traded at €2.05-2.20/kg.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 47kg: €100 or €2.13/kg;
  • 45kg: €101 or €2.25/kg;
  • 44kg: €99 or €2.25/kg;
  • 43kg: €96 or €2.23/kg;
  • 41kg: €84 or €2.05/kg;
  • 40kg: €83 or €2.08/kg;
  • 37kg: €80 or €2.16/kg;
  • 36kg: €79 or €2.19/kg.

Cull ewes also met a good, solid trade in the Kilkenny-based venue and prices of €47-128/head were achieved.

Carnew Mart

Some 2,150 sheep passed through the ring of Carnew Mart on Thursday last and the trade for all lots was said to be stronger. Factory and store lambs were in demand on the day, while exporters were active for ram lambs.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 45-49kg: €94-105;
  • 40-44kg: €83-96;
  • 35-39kg: €69-85;
  • 30-34kg: €68-82.

Cast ewes traded at €50-116, hogget ewes sold for €120-140 and older breeding ewes made €80-120 on the day.

Roscommon Mart

A similar number of sheep passed through the ring of Roscommon Mart for its weekly sheep sale on Wednesday last. Prices for spring lambs peaked at €110, store lambs fetched up to €89 and cast ewes sold at €70-101.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 52kg: €110 or €2.12/kg;
  • 50.8kg: €110 or €2.17/kg;
  • 47.8kg: €108 or €2.26/kg;
  • 50kg: €108 or €2.16/kg;
  • 41.4kg: €89 or €2.15/kg;
  • 40.5kg: €88 or €2.17/kg;
  • 32.1kg: €73.50 or €2.29/kg.