Sheep trade: Prices come under pressure as throughput increases

Late last week, prices, for the first time in a number of weeks, started to come under pressure for lambs.

Towards the end of last week, quotes fell by 10c/kg and, in some cases, again this week, a further 10c/kg has been wiped off base quotes.

Quotes at the end of last week were hovering around the €5.30-5.40/kg mark; however, as of now, base prices for lambs are standing at €5.20-5.30/kg.

This is a decrease of up to 20c/kg in the space of a week, in some cases. Processors are claiming that the ‘big numbers of lambs coming out at the minute’ are putting pressure on prices.

With the Eid al-Adha festival fast approaching (Thursday, July 30) and the fact that the sheep kill for the week ending July 19 reached over 67,500 head, it is clear that there has been a strong demand for factory lambs and that farmers have been moving lambs on quicker, which is evident from the mart trade.

Mart mangers, over the last few weeks, have reported that factory agents have been targeting lighter lambs (40-42kg) that have a good cover of flesh on them, in an attempt to meet demand.

Farmers involved in producer groups or those with large number on hand, are reportedly, securing deals of between €5.55/kg and €5.75/kg, with deals exceeding this range also being reported, although not as frequently.

In terms of cast ewes, at the moment, base quotes are ranging between €2.50/kg and €2.65/kg.

Quotes

This week, Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 530c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 21kg) – for spring lambs.

Irish Country Meats (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 520c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 21kg) – for spring lambs.

And finally, Kepak Athleague (Tuesday quote) is offering a base price of 525c/kg + 15c/kg QA (payable up to a carcass of 21kg) – for spring lambs.

Lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 525c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 530c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 520c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 265c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: 250c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 250c/kg.

Throughput

For the week ending July 19, the sheep kill amassed to 67,563 head, which was an increase of over 3,100 head from the week before.

The number of spring lambs processed increased by 2,378 head and amounted to 58,474 head, for the week ending July 19. To date this year, 12% or 59,363 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 8,577 head – an increase of 765 head – for the week ending July 19.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (the week ending July 19):

  • Spring lambs: 58,474 head (+2,378 or +4.23%);
  • Hoggets: 511 head (+33 or +6.9%);
  • Ewes and rams: 8,577 head (+765 or +9.79%);
  • Total: 67,563 head (+3,177 or +4.9%).

Moreover, overall supplies increased by 3,177 head during the week ending July 19 and amounted to 67,563 head.

Data source: Department of Agriculture

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 1,509,592 head, which is an increase of 78,732 head compared to the 2019 figure of 1,430,860 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (the week ending July 19):

  • Hoggets: 786,732 head (+37,036 or +5%);
  • Spring lambs: 534,959 head (+59,363 or +12%);
  • Ewes and rams: 187,859 head (-17,517 or -9%);
  • Total: 1,509,592 head (+78,732 or +6%).