The sheep trade continues its upward momentum on the back of good demand and relatively tight supplies following the festive season, according to Bord Bia.

Sheep procurement managers across the country are also reporting reduced numbers of sheep coming forward, with spring lamb quotes sitting at €5.10-5.20/kg.

Farmers are currently being offered €2.80-2.90/kg for cull ewes, procurement managers say, despite the Department’s kill figures showing that supplies of these lots have increased over the past week.

Spring lamb kill rises

The cumulative supply of Irish spring lamb to sheepmeat plants during 2015 was 5% higher than 2014 levels, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

A total of 2.59m sheep were killed in Irish sheepmeat factories during 2015, it says.

However, despite the increase in the number of spring lambs slaughtered, there has been 12% fall-off in the number of ewes and rams coming forward for slaughter, these figures show.

The Department’s kill figures also show that the number of sheep slaughtered was 3,000 higher than the previous week, sitting at 49,000 head, for the week ending January 10.

During the first week of 2016, there were 42,222 spring lambs slaughtered and 6,742 ewes and rams slaughtered, the Department figures show.

Key export markets

Irish sheepmeat continues to meet a mixed trade across its key export markets, according to Bord Bia.

It says that the British trade has seen some improvement following the holiday season, as supplies begin to tighten. British and Welsh lamb is currently making the equivalent of around €5.02/kg.

Demand for Irish lamb in France remains quite low with small volumes available on the market, Bord Bia says.

Bord Bia says that the French trade was best for forequarters with promotions focused on legs, shoulders and stewing cuts.