Sheep trade: Spring lamb price gaining momentum

Momentum in spring lamb factory quotes appears to be building, albeit gradually, with some processors increasing their base quotes again this week.

A number of agents are starting negotiations with farmers at 460-475c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance (QA) bonuses) for spring lambs. However, farmers have a little more bargaining power this week.

In some cases, farmers have managed to secure higher returns of 480c/kg when booking in lambs for slaughter; farmers producing large numbers and producer groups are in the best position to secure higher prices.

This week, Kepak Athleague are offering a base price for spring lambs of 475c/kg + 5c/kg QA (payable up to 22kg carcass); this is up 5c/kg compared to last week.

Kildare Chilling is at a base of 475c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to 22kg carcass), while the two Irish Country Meats’ plants are offering 460c/kg + 10c/kg QA (payable up to 22kg carcass).

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 475c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 475c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 460c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 460c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

For ewes, the majority of buyers are quoting 240-250c/kg – excluding QA bonuses – with some processors increasing quotes for ewes by 10c/kg compared to last week.

With the recent wet weather, grazing conditions on some sheep farms have become less favourable. Again, this week, factory agents have urged farmers to ensure lambs and ewes are clean when presented for slaughter.


Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that some 67,499 sheep were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants during the week ending November 11 – a increase of 13,662 head or 25% on the week before.

This was mainly as a result of reduced slaughter activity due to the bank holiday Monday the previous week.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

An 11,107 head (24%) increase in the number of lambs slaughtered was responsible for the majority of this increase. Furthermore, the number of cast – ewes and rams – slaughtered was up by 2,573 head or 30% on the week before.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 87 head (-19 head or +38%);
  • Spring lambs: 56,270 head (+11,107 head or +24%);
  • Ewes and rams: 11,137 head (+2,573 head or +30%);
  • Total: 67,499 head (+11,107 head or +24%).

Official figures also show that almost 2.6 million sheep have been slaughtered up to and including the week ending November 11.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 829,396 head (+22,223 head or +2.7%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,315,745 head (-3,549 head or <1%);
  • Ewes and rams: 438,617 head (+53,828 head or +14%);
  • Total: 2,583,908 head (+71,517 head or +3%).

Sheep marts

Carnew Mart

Last Thursday saw 2,000 sheep on offer at Carnew Mart and a very good trade was reported. The mart’s manager – David Quinn – noted that there was a strong trade for butcher and factory lots with prices reportedly up by €2-3/head.

In addition, store lambs were a similar trade to last week, with cull ewes making €55-120/head, he said.

Lambs sold at:
  • <35kg – €65-85/head;
  • >35kg – €80-95/head;
  • 40-44kg – €88-101/head;
  • 45-49kg – €97-108/head;
  • >50kg – €106-112/head.

Kilkenny Mart

There was a lively sheep trade at Kilkenny Mart yesterday, Monday (19 November). George Candler – the mart’s auctioneer – noted that there was plenty of customers for all lamb types – especially stores.

A top price of €115/head was paid for butcher type lambs, while ewes commanded prices in the region of €70-119/head.

Sample lambs prices:
  • 32kg – €78/head or €2.44/kg;
  • 39kg – €83/head or €2.13/kg;
  • 44kg – €98/head or €2.23/kg;
  • 50kg – €109/head or €2.18/kg;
  • 53kg – €115/head or €2.17/kg.