Shortage of spring lambs makes for a steadier trade

The spring lamb trade has steadied somewhat over the last two weeks, with most factories now sitting on a base price of 480-490c/kg for new season lambs.

Earlier this month, some factories had offered as little as 470c/kg for new season lamb, but prices have steadied considerably since then.

Like, the spring lamb trade, cast ewes also remain on par with last week as farmers are currently being offered a base price of 230-240c/kg.

According to the IFA’s John Lynskey, the spring lamb trade has steadied due to shortage in the supply of finished lambs as  factory buyers are actively looking for lambs.

The IFA Sheep Committee Chairman said the factories were keen to purchase lambs towards the end of last week and in some cases farmers were being paid 500-510c/kg.

Spring lamb supplies jump 5.5%

The number of spring lambs slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat plants jumped 5.5% during the week ending July 10.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that almost 52,400 spring lambs were slaughtered during the week ending July 10, up 2,743 head (+5.5%) compared to the week before.

The ewe and ram kill also jumped by 17% or 1,053 head, while the number of hogget slaughterings declined by 305 head or 50%.

When all of the categories of sheep are taken into account, the total number of sheep slaughtered in Ireland stood at 59,935 head during the week ending July 10, which is 6% higher than the week before.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -305 head (-50%)
  • Spring lambs: +2,743 head (+5.5%)
  • Ewes and rams: +1,053 head (17%)
  • Total: +3,491 head (+6%)

Cumulative sheep kill

Meanwhile, the cumulative number of sheep killed to date is 5% higher than the same time in 2015, Department figures show.

The hogget kill is up by 7% on 2015 levels, with an extra 42,140 head slaughtered this year compared to the same time in 2015.

Official figures also show that there has been an increase in the total number of cast slaughterings, with the ewe and ram kill up 25% or 33,239 head on last year’s levels.

However, there has been a fall in spring lamb throughput which has declined by 4% or 17,776 head on last years levels.

Source: Department of Agriculture
Source: Department of Agriculture

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the recent uplift in the British lamb trade has continued on the back of tighter supplies.

Favourable currency fluctuations are also making UK lamb exports more competitive, while the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent 512c/kg deadweight.

The French sheepmeat trade has also improved due to some increase in demand due to the good weather and the national holiday, Bord Bia reports.

Retail promotions were plentiful focusing mainly on imported and domestic forequarter cuts, legs of lamb, shoulders and chops.