Spring lamb market remains relatively stable

As was the case last week, the spring lamb market has continued to remain stable; factory buyers are offering base quotes from 460c/kg up to 470c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance (QA) bonuses) for spring lambs.

The two Irish Country Meats’ plants – located in Navan and Camolin – are starting negotiations with farmers at 460c/kg (+10c/kg QA), Kepak Athleague is offering a base of 465c/kg (+5c/kg QA) and Kildare Chilling is working off 470c/kg (+10c/kg QA).

However, deals are being done at slightly higher prices and some specialised finishers have secured prices of 480-490c/kg for factory-fit lambs.

Like the spring lamb trade, little change has also been witnessed in the ewe trade and buyers are offering 250-260c/kg (excluding QA bonuses) for suitable lots.

Supplies show signs of easing

After reaching a peak of 78,428 head during the week ending August 19, weekly sheep supplies are showing some signs of returning to more normal levels.

The Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which took place between August 21 and August 25, saw the throughput of sheep at export approved plants rise significantly. Over 150,000 sheep were processed in the two weeks immediately ahead of the festival, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

During the week ending September 2, however, the number of sheep presented for slaughter was back considerably. Some 66,720 sheep were processed – back 5,680 head on the previous week. In addition, spring lamb supplies also eased – falling from 62,696 head to 54,251 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending August 26):
  • Hoggets: 84 (-93 head or -53%);
  • Spring lambs: 62,696 head (-5,604 head or -8%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,620 head (-330 head or -3%);
  • Total: 72,400 head (-6,028 head or -7.7%).

Meanwhile, official figures also show that almost 1.86 million sheep have been processed in approved export plants for the year up to the week ending August 26.

Throughput increases were witnessed in the hogget and cast categories; but spring lamb throughput is running 21,129 head or 3% behind 2017 levels.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 828,340 head (+22,218 head or +3%);
  • Spring lambs: 719,613 head (-21,129 head or -3%);
  • Ewes and rams: 307,905 head (+46,333 head or +18%);
  • Total: 1,855,986 head (+46,802 head or +3%).

The marts

Mountbellew Mart

Increased numbers of breeding stock were on offer at last Saturday’s sale in Mountbellew Mart. Lambs were reported to have met a firm trade due to the presence of more store buyers. On the day, store lambs traded at €70-88.

Sample lamb prices:
  • Eight ewe lambs: 42kg – €91 or €2.17/kg;
  • 16 wether lambs: 38kg – €80 or €2.11/kg;
  • Four ewe lambs: 36.5kg – €82 or €2.25/kg;
  • 12 ewe lambs: 46.8kg – €120 or €2.56/kg;
  • 14 wether lambs: 36.5kg – €83 or €2.27/kg;
  • 10 ewe lambs: 48.5kg – €115 or €2.37/kg.

In addition, a very large number of cast ewes were also on offer and these met with a brisk trade all-round; prices of €72-122 were achieved. Ewe hoggets sold for €135-181. First-crop ewes made €120-160 and second-crop ewes traded at €110-151.

Raphoe Mart

A good entry of sheep was witnessed at Raphoe Mart’s weekly sheep sale on Monday last (September 10) and a lively trade was reported for all of the stock on offer.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 32-35kg: €70-80;
  • 36-40kg: €78-84;
  • 40-43kg: €84-90;
  • 43-47kg: €90-100;
  • 48-52kg: €100-110.

A special entry of ewe lambs also passed through the ring and these lots traded at €120-150, while cast ewes sold for €80-122.

Carnew Mart

Last Thursday’s sheep sale in Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, was the venue’s largest sheep sale of the year, as 2,600 sheep were on offer.

Little change was reported in the trade from the previous week, with butcher and factory lambs selling at €93-108, while store lambs (>35kg) sold for €70-85.

On the day, heavier cull ewes sold for €80-112, while the lighter lots made €40-80. Meanwhile, an improved trade was witnessed for breeding ewes; hogget ewes sold for €120-160 and older breeding ewes made €90-140.