Sheep slaughterings reach a 9-year high

The number of sheep slaughtered in Ireland has reached its highest level in nine years, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

So far this year, almost 2.78 million sheep have been slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants. When compared to the corresponding period in 2016 (first 49 weeks), that’s an increase of 255,753 head or 10%.

Although there is still three weeks of kill data to be included, this year’s sheep kill is currently running 348,929 head above the previous eight year average.

Irish sheep slaughterings:
  • 2017 (year-to-date): 2,776,996 head;
  • 2016: 2,671,405 head;
  • 2015: 2,590,109 head;
  • 2014: 2,599,039 head;
  • 2013: 2,616,000 head;
  • 2012: 2,431,283 head;
  • 2011: 2,171,242 head;
  • 2010: 2,147,578 head;
  • 2009: 2,454,706 head.

For the most part, this year’s increase has been driven by a significant jump in hogget slaughterings. So far this year, these slaughterings have climbed by 125,557 head or 18% on the corresponding period in 2016.

In addition, noticeable increases have been witnessed in lamb and cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings, which has climbed by 6% and 12% respectively.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (2017 versus 2016):
  • Hoggets: 897,492 head (+125,557 head or +18%);
  • Lambs: 1,545,563 head (+83,384 head or +6%);
  • Ewes and rams: 422,656 head (+46,747 head or +12%);
  • Total: 2,776,996 head (+255,753 head or +10%).

What are factories offering?

The majority of factories have maintained base quotes at last week’s levels and are currently quoting 475-485c/kg for lambs. Ewe prices have also remained static at 270c/kg.

Despite the quotes being offered by the factories, deals are being down at higher prices. Some farmers have secured 5.05-5.15c/kg for quality lambs over recent days.

The marts

Carnew Mart

Last Thursday’s sale in Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, featured an entry of 2,065 sheep. A good trade for all classes was reported and butcher and factory lamb prices were similar to previous weeks.

Butcher and factory lambs sold for €97-114, store lambs (>35kg) traded at €80-95 and the lighter lots (<35kg) made €65-84.

Cull ewe prices were up on last week’s sale and heavy cull ewes traded for €105-123, lighter cull ewes made €45-95 and in-lamb ewes sold for €130-150.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 56kg: €114 or €2.04/kg;
  • 53kg: €111 or €2.09/kg;
  • 47kg: €108 or €2.30/kg;
  • 44kg: €98 or €2.23/kg;
  • 33kg: €80 or €2.42/kg;
  • 30kg: €67 or €2.33/kg.

Mountbellew Mart

Last Saturday’s sheep sale in Mountbellew Mart was the final sale of this calendar year. Sales in the Galway-based venue will recommence on January 6.

Despite this, a similar number of sheep were on offer compared to the previous week’s sale. Stag ewes met an improved trade and a 100% clearance rate was achieved on the day. Prices for these lots stood at €70-100.

In addition, fleshy and heavy lambs met with a strong trade, while the store lambs on offer where slightly easier.

Sample lamb prices:
  • Ewe lambs: 49.5kg – €110 or €2.22/kg;
  • Wether lambs: 47.5kg – €94 or €1.98/kg;
  • Wether lambs: 43kg – €89 or €2.07/kg;
  • Ewe lambs: 46.3kg – €100 or €2.16/kg;
  • Wether lambs: 44.5kg – €95 or €2.13/kg;
  • Ewe lambs: 39.2kg – €84 or €2.14/kg.

Roscommon Mart

Last Wednesday’s sale in Roscommon Mart featured a smaller entry of sheep. However, a steady trade was reported for lambs and a top price of €111 was achieved on the day. Prices for cast ewes stood at €43-140.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 57.5kg: €111 or €1.93/kg;
  • 47.5kg: €109 or €2.29/kg;
  • 55.2kg: €109 or €1.97/kg;
  • 51kg: €104 or €2.04/kg;
  • 43.3kg: €93.50 or €2.16/kg;
  • 38.6kg: €80 or €2.07/kg.