Sheep trade: Prices moving in the right direction

During the week ending April 21, the number of hoggets slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved sheep meat plants stood at 41,424 head – an increase of 2,309 head on the previous week.

However, the number of spring lambs decreased by 1,848 head and amounted to 4,712 head.

Looking at prices, many procurement managers are starting negotiations – for spring lambs – with farmers at 600c/kg (excluding quality assurance (QA) and producer group bonuses).

When QA is factored into the quotation, this leaves quotes at 610-615c/kg, while factory agents are currently offering 500c/kg for factory-fit hoggets; bringing the total price – including QA – to 510-515c/kg.

In addition, 270-280c/kg is on the table for well-fleshed ewes.

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: No quote (Wednesday);
  • Kepak Athleague: 600c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 600c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 600c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Hogget quotes:

  • Kildare Chilling: No quote (Wednesday);
  • Kepak Athleague: 500c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 500c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 500c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

However, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Sheep Commitee chairman Sean Dennehy said farmers should not accept the “unrealistic low-quoted prices” offered by the meat factories this week for lamb.

Speaking on the issue, he accused the factories of “trying to undermine the market at this key time of the year, when prices should be peaking”.

Earlier this week, Dennehy said, despite some quotes as low as €5.00/kg, factories are having to pay €5.50-5.60/kg for hoggets and up to €1.00/kg more for spring lambs.

Some larger finishers were securing deals above these price levels, he said.

The chairman said, with Ramadan beginning on the first week of May, demand for lamb should continue strong and supplies will remain tight.

“The factories are trying their hardest to undermine the market and pay lower prices to farmers, which in turn will hit farm income.

“Farmers must resist this and insist on prices significantly above the low quoted prices,” Dennehy added.

Throughput

As mentioned above, hogget throughput at Department of Agriculture approved plants stood at 41,424 head for the week ending April 21 and the number of spring lambs processed was 4,712 head.

In addition, cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings increased by 894 head to 7,412 head.

Moreover, overall supplies decreased by 3,263 head. Cumulative figures for the year-to-date have reached 720,920 head. This is a decrease of 85,040 head compared to the same period in 2018.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending April 21):
  • Hoggets: 41,424 head (-2,309 head or -5.2%);
  • Spring lambs: 4,712 head (-1,848 or -28%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,412 head (+894 head or +13.7%);
  • Total: 53,548 head (-3,263 head or -5.7%).