Sheep trade: Processors tighten their grip on the market

During the week ending May 20, the number of spring lambs slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved sheep meat plants stood at 22,020 – an increase of 4,836 head on the previous week.

On the back of this, factory buyers are striving to get a handle on the market and have cut base quotes by up to 80c/kg over recent days.

As it stands, many procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers at 600-620c/kg (excluding quality assurance and producer group bonuses) for new season lambs – down from 680c/kg last week.

In addition, the hogget season appears to be coming to a close and the majority of processors have ceased quoting for such animals. However, quotes of 540-550c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonus) have been reported.

Factory agents are currently offering 280-300c/kg for well-fleshed ewes.

Supply update

Hogget throughput at Department of Agriculture approved plants stood at 22,955 for the week ending May 20. That’s a decrease of 2,166 head or 8.6% on the week before. However, it is a 28% increase when compared to the corresponding period during 2017.

Cast (ewe and ram) slaughterings also increased by 2,470 head to reach 10,745 head. Furthermore, some 22,020 spring lambs were slaughtered during the week ending May 20.

In addition, overall supplies increased by 5,145 head or 10%. Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 1,013,305 head. This is an increase of 5.8% or 55,725 head compared to the same period in 2017.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending May 20):
  • Hoggets: 22,955 head (-2,166 head or -8.6%);
  • Spring lambs: 22,020 head (+4,836 head or +28%);
  • Ewes and rams: 10,745 head (+2,470 head or +29%);
  • Total: 55,725 head (+5,145 head or 10%).

Mart Trade

Kilkenny Mart

500 sheep were reported to be on offer at Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Monday (May 28). According to the mart’s George Candler, an €8-12 reduction per head was witnessed.

Hoggets peaked at €131/head. Butcher lambs sold for €2.70-2.82/kg or €120-144/head, while factory lambs sold for €2.60-2.83/kg or €105-116/head.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 56kg: €131 or €2.34/kg;
  • 54kg: €119 or €2.20/kg;
  • 51kg: €135 or €2.65/kg;
  • 50kg: €128 or €2.56/kg.

In addition, cast ewes sold to a top-price of €155/head.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • 41kg: €116 or €2.83/kg;
  • 43kg: €115 or €2.67/kg;
  • 45kg: €125 or €2.78/kg;
  • 51kg: €144 or €2.82/kg.

Raphoe Mart

A good trade in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal was reported by the mart’s manager, Anne Harkin; a steady trade was witnessed.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • 32-35kg: €75-85/head;
  • 34-38kg: €85-100/head;
  • 38-42kg: €100-110/head;
  • 42-45kg: €110-120/head;
  • 45-50kg: €120-130/head;
  • 50-55kg: €130-140/head.

On the day, ewes with one lamb at foot sold for €150-185/unit, while ewes with two lambs at foot traded for €180-255/unit. Furthermore, fat ewes made €80-135/head.

Carnew Mart

Some 1,300 sheep passed through the ring at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow on Thursday last (May 24). Hoggets and cull ewes were reported to be a similar trade to the previous week’s sale.

On the day, hoggets sold to a top call of €155, while spring lambs made a top price of €147.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • >45kg: €127-147/head;
  • 40-44kg: €118-131/head;
  • 35-39kg: €92-115/head.

According to the mart manager, David Quinn, heavy cull ewes traded for €115-147/head, while lighter lots sold for €60-100/head.

Furthermore, ewes with single lambs at foot made €180-232/unit, while ewes with twins at foot traded for €180-237/unit.

Sample hogget prices:
  • >50kg: €141-155/head;
  • 45-49kg: €118-130/head;
  • <45kg: €85-115/head.