The factory representative I spoke to was adamant that farmers should take advantage of the current strong lamb prices and not hold onto them.
I cannot understand the logic of keeping lambs longer than necessary in the current high-cost environment,” he said.
“What’s the point of creating extra carcass for which you won’t be paid?
“Lambs are getting heavier in May than I remember. There’s a price attached to it and it doesn’t make sense for farmers to keep doing this.”
The representative was convinced that falling Hoggett numbers should lower the price of spring lamb – at least in the short term.
“However, there are a lot of new-season lambs coming into the market from the French and Spanish and that could put pressure on prices,” he said. “Why would you want to grab a lamb at €8/kg with nothing in the pipeline outside of normal business?”
By that, he means that the next big Muslim festival, Eid al Adha, doesn’t start until July 9.
The message is clear: factories have markets and want lamb, but of course they want them at the right price, and at the moment this price is based on €7.90-8.00/kg.
Factory prices for springs are 50c/kg stronger than last year, with cull ewes being 50-60c/kg stronger.
As with Hoggett Quotes, the Kildare chillings are unchanged from 12 months ago, while the ICM plants are down 20c/kg, and Don Ballyhunis and Capek Athleigue were not up to bidding officially yesterday.
I put it to ICSA’s Sean McNamara that sheep prices are generally better than they were 12 months ago, and that persistently demanding more money from processors ignores the fact that the market only returned could.
“I’m not saying the prices are worse than last year, but the cost is too high,” he said.
“The fact that the factories are paying is a clear indication that the market has moved on and that the lamb meat is very marketable.”
Like all sheep farmers, Shawn continues to take issue with the factories over his refusal to pay for spring lamb, over 20.5 kilograms and 23 kilograms of meat for hoggett.
He said, “The factories are always telling us to draw the lambs as they see fit, but if you take it to its logical conclusion you have probably a half-dozen lambs with them every day in the form of jeeps and boxes. There will be queues,” he said.
“Factories require large numbers to function, in the same way that a farmer would put together 40, 50 or 100 lambs as it makes sense to do so.
“Yeah, they probably won’t fit all the weight you need, but how else do you do that, short of going with some every day?”
around the mart
Evan Moffitt reported a huge sale with 1,400 sheep on offer, but he said that as the hodgepodge season approached, quality was declining.
The best price for those hoggets was 54-55kgs selling up to €170/hd, with 46-47kgs averaging around €160/hd.
Spring lamb numbers remained low, with 46 kg rising to €150/hd as the business continued to be Hoggett’s focus.
The sheep had a good showing at the foot with the sheep, with prices for the second crop of strong lambs reaching €320/unit.
The typical run of sheep with lamb was €200-230/unit.
Ivan added: “I expect business to last at least next month.”
The sheep also did well here, with 48–50 kg Suffolk Cross Hoggets selling top 170/hd.
The show featured a large number of breeding sheep, with Eoin Kane reported as selling older ewes with lambs in leg for €220–230/unit, while younger ewes with sturdier lambs in tow sold for €275- 330/unit made.
Mountain-type ewes with lambs are sold for €120-140/unit.
A small show of sheep kept the business going, with the heaviest hogats topping out at €167/hd in a 63 kg case.
Other prices of note among hoggetts include 49.7kgs €160/hd; 52kgs at €165/hd; and 64kgs at €164/hd.
Spring Lamb tops out at €170/hd for 52-56kgs, with 46.9kgs clocked at €165/hd, while 45.3/kgs clocked €160/hd.
The top price on the breeding side saw the leg with five lambs average €265/unit, while the leg with twins made up to €260/unit.
Cast eaves sold for €60-218/hd.
Although business in general was maintained, hogts were tough – the heavier ones sold for more than €148–167/hd or €98–116/hd for more than €/kg.
Spring Lamb made €158–167/hd or €108–116/hd over weight.
The heavier cool ewes made €170-216/hd, while the lighter keels sold for €86-158/hd.
Sheep with Lamb were sold for €140-265/unit.
Even here the numbers were less. Spring lambs met a tenacious business.
The sample consisted of fifteen 44.6 kg at €160/hd; Five 52.5kgs at €171/hd; and eight 48.1kgs at €170/hd.
Business turned up for Hoggetts, with heavy lots going well: ten 57.1 kg Ewe Hoggetts made €169/hd; Eight 47kg ewes made €157/hd; And three 53.3kg weathers sold for €172/hd.
Trade for sheep breeding improved, with second-harvest sheep selling for €260–268/unit with twins.
The Eevee Hoggts on leg with a lamb tops out at €264/unit, while with twins sold for a top of €272/hd.