Sheep trade: Base quotes for lambs fall to €5.30/kg

Another tough week looks to be in store for farmers that have lambs ready for the factory – as base quotes fall once again.

At the moment, factories are quoting between €5.30/kg and €5.40/kg for spring lambs, which is a drop off of between 10c/kg and 30c/kg compared to this time last week.

Processors are saying that the increasing number of lambs coming on stream, along with difficult market conditions, is leading to the ‘reduction’ in prices for lambs.

When quality assurance (QA) bonuses are taken into account it is leaving base quotes, for lambs, at €5.40/kg.

Again, at the moment, there is still a bit of variation between factories with regards to what weight they are paying up to for lambs. Both Kepak Athleague and Irish Country Meats (ICM) are paying up to 21kg, while Kildare Chilling is paying up to 20.5kg.

Although prices are slipping, processors did note that the lambs being presented for slaughter over the last few weeks have been ‘what they are looking’ for in terms of spec and that they are killing out well.

Base quotes for cast ewes are hovering around the €2.50-2.60/kg mark; however, when QA bonuses are factored in, prices of up to €2.70/kg are achievable.

Finally, in terms of hoggets, base quotes are ranging between €4.50/kg and €4.90/kg.

Speaking about the recent price cuts for lambs, the sheep chairman for the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Sean McNamara, said: “The bad news just keeps coming for sheep farmers.

Our markets have been impacted, wool prices are below the floor and processors continue to ignore the real costs associated with producing lambs and keep slashing prices.

“The simple fact is that it costs money to rear lambs to the highest specifications – and those costs are growing.”

Quotes

Kepak Athleague wasn’t quoting for lambs or ewes on Monday, June 22.

This week, Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 530c/kg +10c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 20.5kg) – for spring lambs.

Irish Country Meats (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 530c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 21kg) – for spring lambs.

In terms of cast ewes, base quotes are ranging between 250c/kg and 260c/kg. When QA bonuses are taken into account it is leaving quotes – for ewes – around the 250-270c/kg mark.

Finally, both Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering 490c/kg for hoggets, while ICM (Monday quote) is offering a 450c/kg for hoggets.

Throughput

For the week ending June 14, the number of spring lambs processed increased by 9,482 head and amounted to 51,973 head.

The number of hoggets processed during the week ending June 14 amounted to 1,876.

Cast (ewe and ram) supplies at the Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 7,872 head – an increase of 1,117 head – for the week ending June 14.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending June 14):

  • Spring lambs: 51,973 head (+9,482 or +22.3%);
  • Hoggets: 1,876 head (-899 or -32.4%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,872 head (+1,117 or +16.1%);
  • Total: 61,733 head (+9,712 or +18%).

Moreover, overall supplies increased by 9,712 head during the week ending June 14 and amounted to 61,733 head.

Data source: Department of Agriculture

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 1,194,109 head, which is an increase of 56,943 head compared to the 2019 figure of 1,137,166 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (week ending June 14):

  • Hoggets: 782,992 head (+38,787 or +5%);
  • Spring lambs: 263,353 head (+38,583 or +17%);
  • Ewes and rams: 147,724 head (-20,433 or -12%);
  • Total: 1,194,109 head (+56,943 or +5%).