Sheep trade: 30c/kg difference in base price for lambs opens up between factories

A substantial gap in terms of base quotes is opening up between factories for lambs at the moment. However, despite this, the trade remains strong with top prices of €5.70-5.80/kg continuing to be secured.

In terms of the wide variation opening up in terms of base prices, Kildare Chilling continues to lead the way with a base price of €5.60 plus a 10c/kg quality assured (QA) bonus – which is an increase of 10c/kg on last week.

Irish Country Meats (ICM) remain on a base of €5.30/kg plus a 10c/kg QA bonus. Kepak Athleague is once again off the table this week. The western-based plant was not quoting for lambs or ewes on Monday (December 14).

Therefore, looking at the quotes on offer, a substantial gap of 30c/kg in base prices has opened up between Kildare Chilling and ICM for lambs.

Top deals of €5.70-5.80/kg continue to be secured at the top end of the market. Deals higher than this (at €5.85-5.90/kg) were reported to be secured late last week; however, it is believed deals higher than €5.80/kg are few and far between at the minute.

Speaking to AgriLand about the sheep trade currently, the sheep chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Sean Dennehy said that the trade as a whole is still very positive.

He added: “Top deals of €5.70-5.80/kg continue to be secured for lambs. The trade isn’t as ‘hot’ as last week but it is still very strong.

There continues to be a good demand for sheep in the lead up to Christmas and the advice would be to move lambs on as they become fit.

“The mart trade continues to be strong, so there are a number of options for farmers to market their lambs.”

Lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: No quote;
  • Kildare Chilling: 560c/kg + 10c/kg QA – up to a 22kg carcass weight (Monday quote);
  • ICM: 530c/kg + 10c/kg QA – up to a 22kg carcass weight (Monday quote).

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: No quote;
  • Kildare Chilling: 270c/kg + 10c/kg QA (Monday quote);
  • ICM: 270c/kg (Monday quote).


For the week ending December 6, the sheep kill amassed to 54,220 head which is an increase of 2,313 head on the previous week. However, this is 10,774 head less than this time last year when the kill amassed to 64,994.

The number of lambs processed for the week ending December 6 totalled 46,668, while the number of ewes and rams processed at meat processing plants amounted to 7,240.

Lamb throughput is still ahead of 2019 levels, with 1,535,321 lambs processed to date, whereas last year, at the same stage, 1,481,405 lambs had been processed.

The ewe and ram kill, which has been the case for much of the year, is still behind on 2019, with 22,741 less processed in comparison to this stage in 2019. During the week ending December 6, the ewe and ram kill amounted to 7,240 which is a decrease of 953 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (the week ending December 6):

  • Spring lambs: 46,668 head (+3,383 or +7.81%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,240 head (-953 or -11.63);
  • Total: 54,220 head (+2,313 or + 4.45%).

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 2,692,637 head, which is an increase of 70,333 head compared to the 2019 figure of 2,622,304 head.

Data source: Department of Agriculture

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (the week ending December 6 ):

  • Hoggets: 791,823 head (+39,670 or +5%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,535,321 head (+53,916 or +4%);
  • Ewes and rams: 365,429 head (-22,741 or -6%);
  • Total: 2,692,637 head (+70,333 or +3%).