Sheep trade: Factories working through backlog, as kill jumps by over 15,000 head

During the week ending Sunday, September 29, the number of spring lambs processed increased by 12,794 head and amounted to 56,339 head.

This week, Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 445c/kg +10c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 21kg).

Irish Country Meats (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 435c/kg + 10c/kg (payable up to a carcass of 21.5kg).

Furthermore, Kepak Athleague (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 440c/kg + 15c/kg (payable up to a carcass of 21kg).

Overall, when the QA is factored in, this leaves quotes at 445-455c/kg.

In addition, cast ewes are making 230-250c/kg in sheep processing plants (payable up to a carcass of 40kg).

Spring lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 440c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 445c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 435c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 240c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: 240c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 230c/kg.

Throughput

Hogget supplies at Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 212 head – an increase of 123 head – for the week ending September 29.

As referenced above, the number of spring lambs processed was 56,339 – an increase of 12,794 head on the previous week.

Graph source: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

In addition, cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings increased by 2,786 head and amounted to 10,082.

Furthermore, overall supplies increased by 15,713 head. Cumulative figures for the year-to-date have reached 1,997,955 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending September 29):

  • Hoggets: 212 head (+123 or +138%);
  • Spring lambs: 56,339 (+12,794 or +29.3%);
  • Ewes and rams: 10,082 head (+2,786 or 38.1%);
  • Total: 66,643 head (+15,713 head or +30.8%).

Price cuts

This week has seen quotes decrease by 5c/kg for lambs and up to 10c/kg for ewes.

One factory, in particular, has said that “there is a backlog of between 20,000/head and 30,000/head of sheep to be killed”.

Over the past week, the number of lambs killed increased by over 12,000 head. Furthermore, the continued backlog of lambs has put further pressure on prices.

This, in turn, has led to factories quoting a base price of 435c/kg for the first time in months.

“Farmers are absolutely furious at ongoing price cuts that are decimating their viability,” according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) sheep chairperson, Sean McNamara.

Furthermore, prices are significantly back from where we would expect them to be at this time of the year. This has been an ongoing issue since last autumn.

“We have been consistently making a loss of around €17/head and there is no way sheep farmers can sustain this,” Sean concluded.

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