Sheep factories have maintained their stance of lamb prices, with three of Ireland’s leading processors opting to keep quotes at last week’s levels.

Both Irish Country Meats and Kildare Chilling have opted to operate at last week’s lower base quotes of 450c/kg and 455c/kg, with both prices excluding the Bord Bia Quality Assurance bonus.

Kepak Athleague have also maintained prices at last week’s levels and is starting negotiations with farmers at 465c/kg.

Meanwhile, looking at ewe prices, the majority of processors have opted to maintain base quotes at 230-240c/kg, excluding Bord Bia Quality Assurance payments.

Lamb supplies jump almost 7%

The number of sheep slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants stood at 60,569 head during the week ending December 11.

This is an increase of 6% or 3,430 head on the week ending November 27.

All of the categories of sheep posted an increase in throughput levels, when supplies from the week ending December 11 are compared with November 27.

Official figures show that lamb throughput increased by 6.7% or 3,254 head, while an extra 219 ewes and rams and 12 hoggets were slaughtered during the week ending December 11.

Cumulative sheep kill

Meanwhile, figures from the Department of Agriculture show that an extra 47,658 sheep (+2%) have been slaughtered in Ireland so far to the year ending December 11.

This brings the total kill for the year to 2.52m head.

So far this year, an extra 42,456 hoggets have been slaughtered, while ewe and ram throughput has increased by 26% or 76,934 head on the year before.

However the number of lamb slaughterings has actually declined, with supplies back by 71,330 head or 5% on 2015 levels.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:

  • Hoggets: +639,479 head or +7%
  • Spring lambs: -71,330 head or -5%
  • Ewes and rams: +76,934 head or +26%
  • Total: +47,658 head or +2%

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, little change had been reported on the British sheepmeat market last week, with the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales making the equivalent of 425c/kg.

It says the French market is slow due to a decrease in demand, while good supplies of UK lambs were also available on the market.

Retail promotions were focused mainly on leg and forequarter cuts, it says, while Grade 1 Irish lamb made around 515c/kg last week.