Sheep trade: Quotes firm – sheep kill drops nearly 6,000 head

There are no major movements in terms of price this week, with meat processing facilities offering up to 550c/kg for hoggets and up to 300c/kg for cast (ewes and rams).

This week, Kildare Chilling is the biggest mover in terms of price – offering 10c/kg more compared to last week. This brought its price up to 540c/kg.

Irish Country Meats was not quoting for lambs/hoggets on Monday, January 27; however, it did supply a quote for cast (ewes and rams). Furthermore, Kepak Athleague was unchanged from last week – offering a base quote of 525c/kg.

Farmers involved in producer groups are securing prices of between 560c/kg and 570c/kg (up to a carcass weight of 22.5kg).

Otherwise, farmers are securing prices of between 540c/kg and 550c/kg including quality assured (QA) bonuses.

As of now, farmers are securing returns of between €118/head and €123/head.

‘Bright start to 2020’

Speaking to AgriLand, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said: “2020 has started brightly for Irish sheep farmers, as tightening supplies push factory and mart prices higher.

“The 2019 sheep kill was down over 204,000 head compared to 2018. As well as that, figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the number of breeding sheep fell by over 83,500 head. This should, in turn, see lamb supplies become tight in 2020.”

On the back of these figures, Dennehy is optimistic that the early part of this year will be a positive one for sheep farmers in Ireland, as the demand in China will continue to draw New Zealand sheepmeat from Europe.

Dennehy added: “Currently, the lamb supplies in Britain are only adequate to supply its own market, with a 5% fall in British sheepmeat expected in 2020.

According to Teagasc, in 2020, sheep farmers will have a lower input expenditure and an increased output volume.

“With a relatively stable outlook for lamb prices on the horizon, margins on farms are forecast to increase from the levels estimated for 2019,” Dennehy concluded.


This week, Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 540c/kg + 10c/kg QA – up 10c/kg on last week (payable up to a carcass of 22.5kg).

Kepak Athleague (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 525c/kg + 15c/kg – no change on last week (payable up to a carcass of 22.5kg).

Overall, when the QA is factored in, this leaves quotes at 540-550c/kg.

In addition, cast ewes are making 290-300c/kg in sheep processing plants.

Spring lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 525c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 540c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 290c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: 290c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 290c/kg.


During the week ending Sunday, January 19, the number of lambs/hoggets processed decreased by 4,860 head and amounted to 43,426.

Cast (ewe and ram) supplies at Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 7,536 – a decrease of 1,112 head – for the week ending January 19.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending January 19):

  • Hoggets/lambs: 48,286 (-4,860 or -10%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,536 head (-1,112 or -12.8%);
  • Total: 56,962 head (-5,972 or -10%).

Furthermore, overall supplies decreased by 5,972 head during the week ending January 19.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (week ending January 19):

  • Hoggets: 132,680 head (+5,761 or +5%);
  • Ewes and rams: 22,005 head (-6,073 or -22%);
  • Total: 154,997 head (-312 or -0.2%).