Pics and prices: Factory lamb prices take a hit at Ballymote Mart

A strong entry of over 850 sheep – which included over 100 breeding ewe and ewe hoggets – were presented for sale at Ballymote Mart on Tuesday last, July 28.

Although there was a good entry of sheep, it was a tough day for sellers that had both factory and breeding-type sheep for sale.

The sale marked the first night of online bidding for sheep as well. The mart, up until then, had already an online-bidding system for cattle in place.

Apart from few teething problems at the start of the sale on Tuesday night, the online-bidding system worked perfectly, according to the mart manager, Stephen Hannon.

The trade for factory-type lambs was back by €5-7/head, according to Stephen. However, in saying that, there were very few pens that went unsold.

In terms of store lambs, similar to what is being reported at other marts across the country, the trade was good for these types.

Again, there was a strong farmer presence around the pens and ring for stores. It was clear that farmers were keen to get hold of any ewe lambs that they felt were fit for breeding.

The first breeding sale of the year also took place on Tuesday last. However, similar to the factory-type lambs, it was a tough evening for sellers with breeding sheep on offer.

Although, it is still relatively early in the season for farmers to be buying ewe hoggets and ewes, as the bulk of breeding sheep tend to sold in August and September.

Factory lambs

As mentioned already, factory lamb prices took a hit at Tuesday evening’s sale. The mart manager said that prices were back €5-7/head on the previous week and, in some cases, back €10/head in comparison to the sale a fortnight ago.

The lambs on offer at the sale consisted of both mountain and lowland-type sheep. Lambs weighing between 42kg and 49kg made from €91/head up to €109/head.

There were very few sheep that broke past the €110/head mark. In cases, where it did happen, lambs were generally in excess of 50kg and made up to €116/head – except in one case.

One exceptional pen of lambs weighing 50kg sold for a top price of €120/head.

The bulk of lambs weighing between 44kg and 47kg sold from €100/head up to €107/head in general.

Lambs that weighed between 42kg and 44kg – and lacked a bit of flesh – generally made from €91/head up to €97/head.

Although prices were back for factory lambs, very few pens went unsold.

Sample butcher and factory-fit lamb prices: 

  • 49kg: €107/head;
  • 43.5kg: €96/head;
  • 45kg: €100/head;
  • 47kg: €108/head;
  • 43.5kg: €101/head;
  • 42kg: €95/head;
  • 46kg: €106/head;
  • 53kg: €116/head.

Click on a thumbnail in the gallery (below) to open up a full-size image; once opened you can scroll sideways to see the next picture. Refer to each caption to see details of each lot, including the sale price.

Store lambs

There was a strong showing of store lambs on the night and they were met with a strong trade.

Farmers had the option of running their store lambs through the ring, which would have meant they could have been bid on by online bidders or else pen them and sell them the same way as the factory sheep were offered.

In the end, there was a fairly even split between the number of lambs that were sold in pens and through the ring.

In general, store lamb prices ranged from €59/head for mountain-bred lambs weighing 28kg and up to €90/head for forward-type lambs weighing 40-41kg.

The bulk of store lambs, weighing between 34kg and 38kg, sold from €78/head right up to €86/head.

Sample store lamb prices:

  • Two lambs weighing 39kg sold for €85/head;
  • 12 lambs weighing 38.5kg sold for €78/head;
  • 12 lambs weighing 35kg sold for €75/head;
  • Four lambs weighing 37kg sold for €77/head;
  • 11 lambs weighing 38kg sold for €78/head;
  • Two lambs weighing 39kg sold for €85/head.

Breeding ewes and ewe hoggets

As mentioned above, a solid entry of over 100 breeding sheep were on offer on Tuesday last at Ballymote Mart.

However, the strong entry of sheep was met with a tough trade. In many cases, sellers were determined to hold out and stay strong on the price that they wanted.

In general, ewe hoggets sold from €160/head up to €172/head. In some instances, bids from €134/head up to €158/head were on the table; however, sellers held firm and opted not to sell.

Furthermore, two and three-year-old ewes sold from €98/head up to €122/head.

The top price on the evening for breeding sheep went to a pen of eight Suffolk ewe hoggets that sold for €202/head.