Sheep trade: More bite to the spring lamb trade this week

More life has entered the sheep trade in recent days, with some processors opting to increase quotes for lambs by 5c/kg. This brings the prices quoted for these animals to 460-470c/kg excluding Quality Assurance (QA) bonuses.

It has been noted that – in some cases – farmers have managed to secure returns of 480-485c/kg when booking in lambs for slaughter; farmers producing large numbers and producer groups are in the best position to secure higher prices.

In addition, procurement managers have noted that lamb supplies are starting to become tighter.

This week, Kepak Athleague have increased base prices spring lambs by 5c/kg and are operating off 470c/kg + 5c/kg QA (payable up to 22kg carcass).

Kildare Chilling is at a base of 465c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to 21.5kg carcass), while the two Irish Country Meats’ plants are offering 460c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to 22kg carcass).

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 465c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 470c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 460c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 460c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

The ewe trade continues to remain stable with base quotes starting at 240-250c/kg excluding Quality Assurance bonuses.

Clean Livestock Policy

Due to the recent heavy rain across the country, a number of factories are currently applying clipping charges where necessary. This comes as a number of sheep – in particular lambs – have been classed as unacceptable.

However, it has been noted that suppliers are aware of the issues around presenting unacceptable sheep for slaughter under the Clean Livestock Policy.

According to some processors, a number of their suppliers are taking remedial action on any dirty lambs before arriving at the factory.


Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that some 53,837 sheep were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants during the week ending November 4 – a decrease of 12,106 head or 18% on the week before; this was mainly due to the bank holiday Monday.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

A 10,413 head (19%) reduction in the number of lambs slaughtered was responsible for the majority of this decrease. Furthermore, the number of cast – ewes and rams – slaughtered was back by 1,726 head or 17% on last week.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 106 head (+29 head or +38%);
  • Spring lambs: 45,163 head (-10,413 head or -19%);
  • Ewes and rams: 8,564 head (-1,726 head or -17%);
  • Total: 53,837 head (-12,106 head or -18%).

Official figures also show that just over 2.5 million sheep have been slaughtered up to and including the week ending November 4 this year.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 829,309 head (+22,229 head or +2.7%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,259,475 head (-4,048 head or <1%);
  • Ewes and rams: 427,480 head (+53,457 head or +14%);
  • Total: 2,516,409 head (+70,656 head or +3%).

Sheep marts

Carnew Mart

Last Thursday was a busy day at Carnew Mart with 2,880 sheep on offer with very good trade reported.

There was an increased demand for store lambs which was reflected in the strong prices given on the day; these lots increased by €2.00-4.00/head.

Lambs sold at:
  • <35kg – €65-86/head;
  • >35kg – €80-93/head;
  • 40-44kg – €85-97/head;
  • 45-49kg – €96-105/head;
  • >50kg – €102-110/head.

Raphoe Mart

There was a large entry of sheep at Raphoe Mart and good trade for all stock on offer was reported by the mart’s manager Anne Harkin.

A number of fat ewes passed through the ring of the Donegal-based venue and these lots sold for €60-110/head.

Lambs sold at:
  • 30-36kg – €65-80/head;
  • 36-40kg – €75-85/head;
  • 40-45kg – €85-95/head;
  • 45-48kg – €93-100/head;
  • 50-55kg – €100-110/head.