Sheep trade: ‘Increasing number of light lambs coming through the system’

Meat processing plants have said that they have been seeing an increasing number of ‘lighter/under-fleshed’ lambs coming through the system over the last few weeks.

It has been widely reported by mart managers that farmers have been drafting lambs a lot sooner than normal in account of the good trade.

A contact from a meat processing plant said that they are seeing more under-fleshed lambs coming through the system than they normally would and that farmers should take extra care when drafting lambs, to make sure that they are not falling below a carcase weight of 17kg.

Also Read: Knowing when your lambs are ready 'to maximise profitability'

In terms of lamb quotes, Kildare Chilling is back on the table this week and is leading the way with a base quote of €5.10/kg for lambs.

Irish Country Meats (ICM) is quoting a base price of €4.90/kg for lambs, while Kepak Athleague was not quoting for lambs or cast ewes on Tuesday (August 25).

This means base quotes are ranging from €4.90-5.10/kg. However, when quality assurance (QA) are added in, it is leaving prices for lambs around the €5.00-5.20/kg.

Those involved in producer groups or those with large numbers on hand have reportedly been securing deals of between €5.20/kg and €5.30/kg, with some deals as much as €5.35/kg being achieved.

Finally, in terms of cast ewes, base prices are ranging from €2.50/kg up to €2.60/kg.

Lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: No quote;
  • Kildare Chilling: 510c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: No quote;
  • Kildare Chilling: 250c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM: 260c/kg.


For the week ending August 16, the sheep kill amassed to 52,586 head, which was a sizeable increase of over 8,300 head from the week before.

The number of spring lambs processed increased by 6,563 head and amounted to 43,452 head, for the week ending August 16. To date this year, 12% or 79,873 more lambs have been killed in comparison to the same period in 2019.

Cast (ewe and ram) supplies at the Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 9,000 head – an increase of 1,761 head – for the week ending August 16.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (the week ending August 16):

  • Spring lambs: 43,452 head (+6,563 or +17.8%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,000 head (+1,761 or +24.3%);
  • Total: 52,586 head (+8,354 or +18.8%).

Moreover, overall supplies decreased by 8,354 head during the week ending August 16 and amounted to 52,586 head.

Data source: Department of Agriculture

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 1,758,056 head, which is an increase of 96,118 head compared to the 2019 figure of 1,661,938 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (the week ending August 16):

  • Hoggets: 787,456 head (+36,938 or +5%);
  • Spring lambs: 750,638 head (+79,873 or +12%);
  • Ewes and rams: 219,916 head (-20,378 or -8%);
  • Total: 1,758,056 head (+96,118 or +6%).