The spring lamb trade has steadied somewhat and base quotes have stabilised after a couple of weeks of price drops. As of yesterday, procurement managers were offering base quotes of 460-470c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance (QA) bonuses) for spring lambs.

Kildare Chilling and Kepak Athleague were locked neck-in-neck at a base price of 470c/kg; but when QA bonuses are factored into the equation, Kildare Chilling is 5c/kg ahead at 480c/kg.

Meanwhile, the two Irish Country Meats’ plants – located in Navan and Camolin – are starting negotiations with farmers at 460c/kg (+10c/kg QA bonus).

Although deals are being done at slightly higher prices, some specialised finishers have had more success when it comes to carcass weights and arrangements have been reached at 22kg carcass cut offs.

At a base price of 470c/kg, securing payment for this extra 0.5kg of sheepmeat is worth over 10c/kg for every kilogram of carcass or approximately €2.35/head.

Meanwhile, as has been the case over recent weeks, the ewe trade continues to remain tricky and buyers are starting negotiations with farmers at 250-260c/kg (excluding QA bonuses).

Supplies continue to remain strong

Despite dipping by 6,028 head during the week ending August 26, sheep supplies continue to remain strong in export approved sheepmeat plants.

During the week ending August 26, some 72,400 sheep were processed in such plants, figures from the Department of Agriculture show. The majority of this throughput was in the form of spring lambs and some 62,696 head were slaughtered – a fall of 5,604 head or 8% on the previous week.

Throughput reductions were also witnessed in the cast (ewe and ram) and hogget categories – down by 330 head and 93 head respectively.

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%).