Spring lamb price progress appears to have stalled

Although many spring lamb processors lifted base quotes by 5-10c/kg over recent weeks, any momentum that appeared to be building seems to have stalled this week.

As it stands, spring lamb buyers are beginning negotiations with farmers at 455-465c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance bonuses). Early indications also suggest that some processors will move to pull quotes by 5c/kg this week.

Despite this, suppliers managed to secure returns of 480c/kg when booking in lambs for slaughter late last week. And, as has been the case over recent weeks, suppliers producing large numbers and producer groups appear to have the strongest bargaining power.

Turning to ewe returns, the majority of buyers are quoting 240-250c/kg for suitable lots this week – pretty much unchanged from last week.


Official figures show that 66,959 sheep were processed in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants during the week ending October 21 – down 372 head or 0.6% on the week before.

A reduction in spring lamb numbers (1,760 head) was responsible for this fall, but cast (ewe and ram) throughput increased by 1,327 head or 12.9% on the week before.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending October 21):
  • Hoggets: 157 head (+63 head or +67%);
  • Spring lambs: 55,178 head (-1,760 head or -3.1%);
  • Ewes and rams: 11,624 head (+1,327 head or +12.9%);
  • Total: 66,959 head (-372 head or -0.6%).

Meanwhile, looking at the cumulative sheep kill between January 1 and October 21, figures from the Department of Agriculture show that almost 2.4 million sheep have been slaughtered – a climb of 69,920 head when compared to the corresponding period in 2017.

Throughput increases have been witnessed in the cast (+55,163 head) and hogget (+22,234 head) categories, but spring lamb throughput is running 6,502 head behind the same period in 2017.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 829,126 head (+22,234 head or +3%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,158,736 head (-6,502 head or -1%);
  • Ewes and rams: 408,626 head (+55,163 head or +16%);
  • Total: 2,396,629 head (+69,920 head or +3%).