‘Sheep farmers cannot afford to take price hits of €15/head’

Sheep farming is a very low margin sector and farmers cannot afford price hits of up to €15/head over a short period of time, according to the IFA’s John Lynskey.

Over the past four weeks, spring lamb prices have dropped in a number of factories, with quotes falling from 600c/kg in early April to 550c/kg this week.

IFA Sheep Committee Chairman, John Lynskey said prices have stabilised this week, as the balance between supply and demand was very tight.

But, the upheaval on lamb price over the last two weeks has damaged the market and will severely impact on the incomes of sheep this year.

The Mayo-based sheep farmer said that spring lamb producers and hogget finishers have come through a very tough spring, due to difficult weather conditions and higher feed costs.

Lynskey also said that the difficulties around the changeover from hoggets to spring lamb must be handled in a better way other that just slashing prices.

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.

And, as a result, he said the IFA will meet Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and lamb processors this week on prices and the need to stabilise the market.

“An IFA delegation, led by our President Joe Healy, together with members of the National Sheep Committee will meet the key lamb plant managers this week.

“Our message will be simple and straightforward: lamb prices need to stabilise so as not to undermine the market at this critical time in the season,” he said.

Lynskey also said that he will propose the following carcass weight guidelines for 2016.

  • 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