Weaker factory prices fail to stop lamb supply

Falling factory prices have failed to stop the flow of lamb supplies in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants.

In recent weeks, lamb prices have weakened considerably with most processors now offering base quotes of 440-445c/kg.

But the falling farmgate price has failed to reduce the number of lambs coming forward for slaughter, with the weekly lamb kill jumping by 4.7% or 48,502 head last week.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database also show that ewe and ram throughput has been on the rise.

During the week ending October 9, Irish processors slaughtered 301,225 head of ewes and rams – an increase of 12,318 head or 4.2% on the week before.

Ewe prices have also come under some pressure, previously 240c/kg for suitably fleshed cast ewes was widely available but in recent weeks prices have dropped to 225-230c/kg.

Source: Department of Agriculture
Source: Department of Agriculture

Given the rise in lamb and cast throughput, the total weekly kill also posted a 3% rise on the week before with throughput up by 60,740 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Lambs: +48,502 head (+4.7%)
  • Ewes: +12,128 head (+4.2%)
  • Total: +60,740 head (+3%)

Cumulative sheep kill on par with 2015

Despite the increase in slaughterings in recent weeks, figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that this year’s cumulative kill remains on-par with 2015.

But when looked at on a category-by-category basis, the number of lambs slaughtered so far this year has dropped by 8% or 99,775 on 2015.

Meanwhile, figures from the Department show that ewe and ram throughput has increased by 55,878 head or 23% on the corresponding period in 2015.

Like the ewe and ram kill, the cumulative hogget kill to the week ending October 9 is up by 42,448 head or 7% on the corresponding time in 2015.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Lambs: -99,775 head (-8%)
  • Ewes: +55,878 head (+23%)
  • Hoggets: +42,488 head (+7%)
  • Total: -1,530 head (0%)