Sheep farmers are being urged to “ignore quotes” on lamb due to a continuing strong performance in the market.

The Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) said today (Monday, May 17) that demand for lamb is outweighing supplies and that factories are paying “well above” quoted prices in order to secure supply.

“The practice of quoting prices that in no way reflect the market is angering farmers and undermining producer groups who have made commitments to factories,” IFA National Sheep Committee chairperson Sean Dennehy said.

Dennehy argued that there is “an urgent need for greater transparency” through accurate and up-to-date factory price reporting.

“Despite lower quotes, €8.00/kg is freely available throughout the country to 21kg. Higher deals are available on price, up to €8.30/kg, and on weight to 21.5kg,” he noted.

According to the IFA sheep chairperson, some factories are also offering transport in order to get deals finalised.

“Hoggets are generally moving for €7.50/kg, with cull ewes from €3.30/kg to €3.55/kg,” he added.

Dennehy went on to note that factory agents and wholesalers are “very active” in the marts at present.

This, he said, was providing “a real competitive alternative”, particularly to lower prices quoted by factories.

Dennehy urged farmers to “sell hard” while moving lambs as they become fit in order to maximise returns.

Sheep kill figures

The sheep kill figures for the year to date may provide some indication of the tighter supplies.

Taking a look at this year’s throughput figures to date, 811,467 sheep have been processed thus far.

Of that figure, 661,177 have been hoggets, while 53,040 have consisted of spring lambs.

Ewe and ram throughput makes up the rest at 97,154 head.

If we compare figures to date this year against the same period in 2020, we can see that the total number of sheep slaughtered is back 66,812 head.

80,243 fewer hoggets have been processed in comparison to the same period last year.