Lower factory prices appear to be hitting lamb supply

The continuation of lower factory prices appear to have had a negative impact on the number of lambs brought forward for slaughter last week.

Prices of 440-445c/kg seem to have have hit home, and as a result farmers appear to have reduced the number of lambs being marketed during the week ending October 23.

Official figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that the lamb kill for the week ending October 23 fell by 2.5% on the week before, bringing the total lamb slaughter for the week to 47,280 head.

It also shows that ewe and ram slaughterings declined last week, with throughput falling by 1,212 head or 10% on the week before.

Given the fall in lamb and cast throughput, the total number of sheep slaughterings also dropped by 3.9% or 2,345 head week-on-week.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:

  • Lambs: -1,222 head or -2.5%
  • Ewes: -1212 head or -10%
  • Total: -2345 head or -3.9%

Source: Department of Agriculture
Source: Department of Agriculture

Cumulative sheep kill similar to 2015

However, despite the week-on-week change, overall sheep kill figures for the year-to-date remain almost identical to 2015, with only a 677 head increase in supply. This is negligible in percentage terms.

But, when viewed on a category-by-category basis, the number of lambs slaughtered so far this year has dropped by 8% or 102,378 on 2015 figures.

The cumulative hogget kill is up by 42,503 head or 7% while ewe and ram throughput has increased by 59,237 head or 23% on the same period in 2015.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:

  • Lambs: -102,378 head or -8%
  • Ewes: +59,237 head or +23%
  • Total: +677 head or 0%