Sheep trade: Steady supply of lambs see prices rise up to 510c/kg

Base quotes have increased this week, with meat processing facilities offering farmers up to 510c/kg including quality assured (QA) bonuses.

Base quotes have increased by between 5c/kg and 10c/kg on last week. Currently, farmers are securing prices of between 490c/kg and 500c/kg including QA bonuses.

Factories are reporting a steady supply of lambs into the system, with just under two weeks of production left for this calendar year.

Some farmers say that those involved in producer groups are starting to secure prices as high as 520c/kg.

Farmer activity around the mart ring has increased over the past few weeks. This has led to factory agents having to pay more to secure finished lambs, which could be seen as a contributing factor in improved factory prices.

However, sheep farmers are still getting paid below the cost of production despite recent increases, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

ICSA sheep chairman Sean McNamara outlined the issue, explaining: “We need to be getting 550c/kg at the very minimum, just to cover our costs.

We can’t keep going producing at below the cost of production. The figures just don’t stack up.

McNamara said that the African swine fever (ASF) crisis meant there was a huge demand for animal protein in China, adding that this should be helping prices.

“The impact on global pork prices along with the fact that sheepmeat plants in Ireland are now China -approved suggests there is plenty of scope to increase sheep prices both in the short-term and into 2020,” he concluded.

Quotes

This week, Kildare Chilling (Tuesday quote) is offering a base price of 500c/kg + 10c/kg QA – up 10c/kg on last week (payable up to a carcass of 22kg).

Irish Country Meats (Tuesday quote) is offering a base price of 480c/kg + 10c/kg – up 5c/kg on last week (payable up to a carcass of 22kg).

And, finally, Kepak Athleague (Tuesday quote) is offering a base price of 485c/kg + 15c/kg – up 10c/kg on last week (payable up to a carcass of 22kg).

Overall, when the QA is factored in, this leaves quotes at 490-510c/kg.

In addition, cast ewes are making 270-280c/kg in sheep processing plants (payable up to a carcass of 40kg).

Spring lamb quotes:

  • Kepak Atleague: 485c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 500c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 480c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes:

  • Kepak Athleague: 270c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: 270c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats: 270c/kg.

Throughput

During the week ending Sunday, December 1, the number of spring lambs processed increased by 2,215 head and amounted to 55,600.

Hogget supplies at Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 90 – an increase of 14 head – for the week ending December 1.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending December 1):

  • Hoggets: 90 head (+14 or +18%);
  • Spring lambs: 53,385 head (+2,215 or +4.1%);
  • Ewes and rams: 8,992 head (-67 or -0.7%);
  • Total: 64,682 head (+2,162 or +3.4%).

In addition, cast (ewe) slaughterings decreased by 67 and amounted to 8,992.

Furthermore, overall supplies increased by 5,402 head during the week ending December 1.

Cumulative figures for the year-to-date have reached 2,557,310 – down over 213,000 head on the corresponding figure of 2,770,723 for 2018.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (week ending December 1):

  • Hoggets: 738,842 head (-90,796 or -11%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,438,856 head (-29,915 or -2%);
  • Ewes and rams: 379,041 head (-93,097 or -20%);
  • Total: 2,557,310 head (-213,413 or -8%).