Little movement in lamb price as factories expect stronger supplies this week

Spring lamb and hogget price have remained static this week, as the market show some signs of steadying following a difficult few weeks in April.

The main sheep factories are now offering a base price of 550c/kg for spring lamb, down from 600c/kg in early April.

Procurement managers also expect spring lamb throughput to increase this week due to the forecast improvement in the weather.

Spring lamb base price:

Kildare Chilling: 550c/kg
ICM Navan: 550c/kg
ICM Camolin: 550c/kg
Kildare Chilling: 550c/kg

However, they said that hogget numbers are starting to tighten, as the season draws to a close. But, the base prices for these lots remains unchanged at 500c/kg.

Cast ewe price also remains similar to last week, with the majority of processors now offered base prices of 250-260c/kg for fleshed ewes.

Hogget base price:

Kildare Chilling: 500c/kg
ICM Navan: 500c/kg
ICM Camolin: 500c/kg
Kildare Chilling: 500c/kg

IFA meets factories on market issues

The newly elected IFA President Joe Healy and IFA Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey met with factories last week to try and resolve the issue of carcass weights and the changeover from hoggets to spring lamb.

Prior to the meeting, Lynskey said that sheep farmers cannot afford to take price hits of €15/head on spring lamb over a short period of time.

He also said that the upheaval on lamb price has damaged the market and will severely impact on incomes of sheep farmers this year.

“A sustainable sheep sector needs the seasonal supply spread provided by strong spring lamb and hogget enterprises. Otherwise the processing sector will become more dependent on imports,” he said.

The Mayo-based farmer also proposed the follow carcass weight guidelines:

  • April and May carcass weights of 21kg
  • Rising to 21.5kg from 1st June
  • 22kg from mid-July
  • 22.5kg from September 1
  • 23kg from mid-October
  • 23.5kg from December 1

Sheep supplies

There was a jump in the number of spring lambs slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants during the week ending May 1.

Figures from the Department’s sheep kill data shows that spring lamb throughput increased by 134% or almost 6,000 head on the week before.

Official figures show that the number of hoggets slaughtered last week declined by 6.7% or just over 2,000 head compared to the week before, as the hogget season draws to a close.

The Department’s figures show there was also an increase in the number of cast slaughterings, with the ewe and ram kill jumping by 12%.

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British sheep trade was steady last week, with the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales making the equivalent of around €5.66/kg deadweight.

The French sheep trade has also shown some improvement due to the rise in demand as a result of the bank holiday weekend.

But, Bord Bia reports that there are plentiful supplies of French Lacaune lamb available on the market, along with strong supplies of UK and competitively priced Spanish lamb.

French retailers continue to carry out promotions on domestic lamb, but imported products such as legs, shoulders and chops were also marketed.