Sheep trade: Spring lamb quotes slashed further

During the week ending May 27, the number of spring lambs slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved sheep meat plants stood at 27,249 – an increase of 5,229 head on the previous week.

On the back of this, factory buyers have cut base quotes by up to 20c/kg over recent days. This amounts to a price drop of 80-100c/kg over the last two weeks.

This week, many procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers at 580-590c/kg (excluding quality assurance and producer group bonuses) for spring lambs – down from 600-620c/kg last week.

The majority of processors are offering 490-500c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonus) for hoggets, while factory agents are currently offering 280-290c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonus) for well-fleshed ewes.

It must be noted that finishers with larger numbers of sheep to market have been receiving prices above base quotes.

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 590c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 590c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 580c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 580c/kg + 10c/kg QA.


Hogget throughput at Department of Agriculture approved plants stood at 16,277 for the week ending May 27. That’s a decrease of 6,678 head or 29% on the week before.

The number of spring lambs slaughtered jumped to 27,249 – an increase of 5,229 head on the previous week. Cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings fell by 1,220 head or 11.3% to reach 9,525 head.

Moreover, overall supplies decreased by 2,662 head or 4.7%. Cumulative figures for the year-to-date have reached 1,066,368 head. This is an increase of 1.5% or 15,844 head compared to the same period in 2017.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending May 27):
  • Hoggets: 16,277 head (-6,678 head or -29%);
  • Spring lambs: 27,249 head (+5,229 or +23.7);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,525 head (-1,220 head or -11.3%);
  • Total: 53,063 head (-2,662 head or -4.7%).

Mart Trade

The cuts that have been witnessed in processing plants over recent weeks have filtered down to mart level. Mart managers have reported price drops of up to €8/head for factory-fit lambs in some cases.

Carnew Mart

Some 1,280 sheep passed through the ring at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow on Thursday last (May 31). Butcher lambs were reported to have fallen by €5-8/head on the previous week’s sale.

Butcher and cull ewes were reported to have met a good trade. Ewe prices were similar – if not improved slightly – on the previous week’s sale.

On the day, hoggets sold to a top call of €135/head.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • >45kg: €120-134/head;
  • 40-44kg: €100-120/head;
  • 35-39kg: €88-101/head;
  • <35kg: €72-85/head.

According to the mart manager, David Quinn, heavy cull ewes traded for €120-141/head, while lighter lots sold for €60-110/head.

Furthermore, ewes with single lambs at foot made €130-175/unit, while ewes with twins at foot traded for €185-238/unit.

Kilkenny Mart

There was an unexpected good trade for all sheep, with spring lambs peaking at €146/head at Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Tuesday, according to the mart’s George Candler.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • 55kg: €146 or €2.65/kg;
  • 50kg: €137 or €2.74/kg;
  • 49kg: €131 or €2.67/kg;
  • 48kg: €132 or €2.75/kg;
  • 44kg: €117 or €2.66/kg;
  • 43kg: €120 or €2.79/kg;
  • 37kg: €95 or €2.57/kg.

In addition, cull ewes sold to a top price of €140/head.