Factory buyers have warned that over-fat and heavy lambs have become an increasingly common problem in recent weeks.

Some buyers have suggested that farmers are holding onto lambs longer then they should and have also encouraged farmers to draft lambs frequently to avoid delivering over-fat or over-heavy lambs.

Most factories are currently paying up to a carcass weight of 22.5kg and farmers have been urged to monitor lamb weights and slaughter lambs at the optimum fat score and carcass weight.

Factories are also looking for farmers to supply them with clean lambs, with farmers required to dagg any dirty lambs before sending them for slaughter.

Little movement in lamb price

Meanwhile, looking at price, there has been little movement in the price being offered to farmers for lambs.

Kepak Athleague continue to lead the way with a base price of 465c/kg, unchanged from last week, while Kildare Chilling is offering 460c/kg – a 5c/kg improvement on last week.

Looking at the two Irish Country Meats’ plants both are operating off a base price of 450c/kg excluding a Quality Assurance top-up of 10c/kg.

Despite the lack of movement in the lamb trade, there has been some upward pressure on ewe prices, with most buyers starting negotiations with farmers at 240-245c/kg.

Lamb price round up:
  • Kepak Athleague: 465c/kg +5c/kg QA
  • Kildare Chilling: 460c/kg +10c/kg QA
  • ICM Camolin: 450c/kg +10c/kg QA
  • ICM Navan: 450c/kg +10c/kg QA

Extra hoggets expected in 2017

A carryover of 2016 born lambs is expected this year as a poor summer hit lamb slaughterings in 2016, according to Bord Bia’s Declan Fennell.

The Bord Bia Sheepmeat Sector Manager said spring lamb slaughterings were back last year due to a difficult summer, which seen lamb throughput fall by 43,000 head on the year before.

“Grass growth was poor, sunshine wasn’t great and lambs were always running late,” he told crowds at the recent Bord Bia Meat Market Seminar.

However, he said lamb throughput did creep up in the latter stages of 2016, as slaughterings had previously been down by 80,000 head or 7% year-on-year.

There was also a significant increase in the overall kill, he said, with the total for the year reaching the 2.67 million head mark.