Sheep trade: Factories ‘up to their old tricks’ as prices head in the opposite direction

After a roaring start to the new year, the sheep trade took a bit of a dip last week and it has carried on into this week.

Top prices of €6.40-6.50/kg were being secured by sellers last week and higher in some cases; however, the mart trade hit a fairly big bump at some marts, with prices for factory-fit hoggets easier by as much as €7-10/head at some marts – which indicated that factories were looking to break the momentum that had been building the last few weeks.

This week, base quotes have slipped back 20c/kg from last week. Kildare Chilling is now back to €6.00/kg – which is 20c/kg less than a week ago.

Irish Country Meats (ICM) is offering a base price of €5.80/kg, which is also back 20c/kg from last week. Again, no quote from Kepak Athleague this week. The western-based plant said that it wouldn’t be killing today and that it was unsure of what it would be quoting tomorrow.

Those at the top end of the market are securing deals of between €6.20/kg up to €6.30/kg, with some negotiating 5c/kg more in cases.

Commenting on the pull in prices, Sean McNamara, the sheep chairperson of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), said that factories were back to their old tricks once again by pulling prices.

He said: “It’s not the first time we have seen factories pull prices and it won’t be the last. I knew of deals being done at €6.60/kg the week before last and now we are seeing this come down to €6.25-6.35/kg. It’s unacceptable.

“In the space of a week to 10 days, you could say prices are back €7-8/head for lambs/hoggets. With the amount of meal farmers are feeding to get these lambs fit for the factory it’s just not right what the factories are doing – cutting prices like that.”

The cull ewe trade continues to hold firm, with quotes rising 10c/kg in some cases. Base quotes are ranging from €2.80-2.90/kg, with sellers at the top end of the market securing deals of €3.00-3.20/kg for ewes.

Lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: No quote;
  • Kildare Chilling: 600c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM: 580c/kg + 10c/kg.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: No quote;
  • Kildare Chilling: 290c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM: 280c/kg.