Sheep trade: Sheep kill sees substantial fall; lamb prices steady, if not ‘stronger’

The sheep trade appears to be starting on a stable, if not strong, foot this week, with factories increasing base quotes in some cases.

Base quotes are ranging from €4.90-4.95/kg. When quality assurance (QA) bonuses are taken into account it is leaving prices for lambs around the €5.00-5.10/kg mark.

Those involved in producer groups or with large numbers on hand have been securing deals of between €5.10/kg and €5.20/kg, with reports over the weekend suggesting that deals of up €5.30/kg had been secured.

Again, this week, Kildare Chilling is off the table, with a contact from the meat processing plant saying that it won’t be “taking sheep during the early part of the week”.

Also Read: Kildare Chilling 'unlikely' to be taking sheep in early part of this week

Kepak Athleague is back on the table this week and is quoting a base price of €4.95/kg for lambs, while Irish Country Meats (ICM) is quoting a base price of €4.90/kg for lambs – which is up 10c/kg on last week.

Speaking to mart managers over the past week, they said that heavy lambs are scarce and that factory agents have been “moving down the weights” to secure lambs.

The sheep chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Sean Dennehy, said: “Lamb prices are stable; if anything they are a bit stronger.

“Deals of €5.10-5.20/kg are widely available for lambs, with those involved in producers getting more in some cases. Numbers are tight at the moment.”

In terms of cast ewes, base quotes are ranging from €2.50/kg up to €2.60/kg.

Lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 495c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: No quote;
  • Irish Country Meats: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 250c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: No quote;
  • Irish Country Meats: 260c/kg.

Throughput

For the week ending August 9, the sheep kill amassed to 44,232 head, which was a substantial decrease of over 33,000 head from the week before.

The number of spring lambs processed decreased by 32,797 head and amounted to 36,889 head, for the week ending August 9. To date this year, 15% or 92,611 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 7,239 head – a slight decrease of 111 head – for the week ending August 9.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (the week ending August 9):

  • Spring lambs: 36,889 head (-32,797 or -47%);
  • Hoggets: 104 head (-162 or -60%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,239 head (-111 or -1.51%);
  • Total: 44,232 head (-33,072 or -42.8%).

Moreover, overall supplies decreased by 33,072 head during the week ending August 9 and amounted to 44,232 head.

Data source: Department of Agriculture

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 1,705,470 head, which is an increase of 110,492 head compared to the 2019 figure of 1,594,978 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (the week ending August 9):

  • Hoggets: 787,324 head (+36,957 or +5%);
  • Spring lambs: 707,186 head (+92,611 or +15%);
  • Ewes and rams: 21,916 head (-18,812 or -8%);
  • Total: 1,705,470 head (+110,492 or +7%).

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