Some stability in the sheep factory trade with prices unchanged from last week

The fall in sheep factory quotes has ceased, with prices for spring lambs, hoggets and cast ewes remaining unchanged from last week.

Over the past two weeks, spring lambs quotes have dropped by as much as 50c/kg, which is a price cut of €10/head on a 20kg new season lamb carcass.

However, a number of the main sheep processors have maintained spring lamb quotes at last week’s levels, with farmers now being offered a spring lamb base price of 550c/kg.

Spring lamb prices:
  • ICM Camolin: 550c/kg
  • ICM Navan: 550c/kg
  • Kildare Chilling: 550c/kg
  • Kepak Athleague: Not quoting

Like the spring lambs, the hogget trade has also eased in recent weeks, falling by 30c/kg last week, due to strong hogget throughput in the UK.

But, despite last week’s fall, hogget prices have remained unchanged, with the majority of procurement managers now offering a base price of 500c/kg for these lots.

Cast ewes are also trading at similar price to last week, with most making between 250-270c/kg.

Hogget prices:
  • ICM Camolin: 500c/kg
  • ICM Navan: 500c/kg
  • Kildare Chilling: 500c/kg
  • Kepak Athleague: Not quoting

A number of procurement managers told Agriland that the steadiness in the sheep trade has occurred as Irish hogget numbers are beginning to tighten as the season draws to a close.

And, the number of spring lambs being presented for slaughter continues to remain tight, due to the poor weather conditions over the past month.

Sheep supplies

There was a marked reduction in the number of spring lambs slaughtered during the week ending April 24, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

During the week ending April 24, spring lamb throughput declined by 49%, with 2,149 fewer lambs slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat plants.

However, there was a small increase in hogget throughput, with the weekly kill increasing by 3% or 1,025 head compared to the week ending April 17.

Official figures also show there was some decline in the number of ewes and rams slaughtered during the week ending April 24, down 7% on the week before.

Weekly sheep kill changes:

  • Hoggets: +1,025 head (+3%)
  • Spring lambs: -2,149 head (-49%)
  • Ewes and rams: -400 head (-7%)
  • Total: -1,487 head (-3.6%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, little change was reported in the British sheepmeat market last week, with the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales making in the region of €5.28/kg.

But, the French trade continues to remain slow on the back of lower demand, with promotions focusing on domestic and UK lamb and hoggets.

However, EU sheepmeat production looks set to increase this year, as the AHDB forecasts EU sheepmeat production to jump by 3% this year.

Sheepmeat production is likely to jump due to small rise in the European breeding flock last December and an increase in production in Spain.

Irish sheepmeat production is expected to jump by 5% during 2016, despite a relatively unchanged lamb crop this spring, according to the AHDB.

The majority of this increase comes from a rise in the number of 2015 born lambs and cull ewes slaughtered so far this year.