Sheep trade: ‘Over 450,000 sheep were imported from the UK in 2018’ – ICSA

Factories are again quoting a base price as low as 430c/kg this week. In some cases, lambs that are overweight are making 380c/kg.

During the week ending Sunday, October 27, the number of spring lambs processed decreased by 642 head and amounted to 53,337 head.

This week, Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 445c/kg +10c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 21.5kg).

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

And, finally, Kepak Athleague (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 430c/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: 430c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 445c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 435c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes: 

  • Kepak Athleague: 230c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: 240c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 235c/kg.

Throughput

As referenced above the number of spring lambs processed was 53,337 – a decrease of 642 on the previous week.

Hogget supplies at Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 93 head – a decrease of 12 head – for the week ending October 27.

In addition, cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings decreased by 2,372 and amounted to 9,348.

Furthermore, overall supplies decreased by 2,372 head during the week ending October 27.

Cumulative figures for the year-to-date have reached 2,257,436 head – down over 200,000 head on the 2018 figure of 2,462,572.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending October 27):

  • Hoggets: 93 head (-12 or -11.4%);
  • Spring lambs: 53,337 head (-642 or -1.2%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,348 head (-1,723 or -15.5%);
  • Total: 62,784 head (-1,077 or -3.64%).

Transparency

“More transparency is required around the number of imports of live sheep from the UK,” according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) Seán McNamara.

“Processors are bringing in huge volumes of imported lambs from the UK, and this information needs to be made known to farmers.

“We must have full transparency in this area if we are to have any hope of sheep farmers getting a fair return for their produce.

The ICSA understands that 456,452 head of sheep were imported from Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2018.

“Sheep farmers don’t have a level playing field, and they are constantly losing out and are unable to make a decent return,” he added.

“Furthermore, it is clear to the ICSA that factories are using these imports to keep a lid on prices.

“We have no information on whether the sheep imported are subject to the same strict rules as local farmers, regarding the Clean Livestock Policy or indeed what happens to them post-slaughter,” Seán concluded.

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