This year’s sheep slaughter was 7 per cent higher than 2021 – with 1,831,065 processed by August 28 – but a factory buyer expects the numbers will fall.
This logic is based on the average carcass weights his facility has seen over the past month. Lambs ‘do not kill themselves well’ because of the lack of grass – flour is not being fed in sufficient quantities to make up for the deficit to thrive and farmers are deterred by the cost.
“Once the rains come and the grass begins to recover, farmers will likely keep sheep in hopes of putting more weight into them,” this manufacturer predicted.
A second factory rep offered a different approach to lamb weights. Although he agreed some lambs were lighter, he claimed the majority were “not undermeat”.
As prices have returned, he expects the market “to stabilize on both sides.” When asked if prices for farmers have now bottomed out, he replied: “I’d like to think so.”
His only major concern for the future was how consumers and industry would deal if energy prices got out of control.
“But if that happens, the lamb price won’t be the problem,” he said.
In the here and now, the price offered by factories is a very real problem.
IFA Sheep Chair Kevin Comiskey said: “Teagasc has forecast that margins from sheep production will fall this year as lamb prices are insufficient to cover increased production costs.
“Their Outlook report predicts that the average income of family farms on sheep farms will fall by 20 percent in 2022.”
Yesterday’s quotes, combined with some of the above opinions expressed by the factory reps, give a glimmer of optimism that things won’t get any worse.
Although Dawn Ballyhaunis lowered its lamb bid yesterday by 10 cents/kg to €6.10 + 10 cents/kg quality assurance, that still puts them 10 cents/kg ahead of the country’s largest sheep processing group, ICM, which is at 6.00 € + 10 cents/kg. kg quality assurance.
Kildare Chilling was unchanged at €6.20 + 10c/kg QA.
However, cull prices fell by 10-30c/kg. This left the ICMs at €3.30/kg, Kildare and Dawn at €3.10/kg. Prices on the ground are between 3.40 and 3.70 €/kg.
ICSA’s Sean McNamara expects the numbers to “settle down” after the rain arrives to allay concerns about the grass.
He believes this will help lamb prices stay around €6.20-6.40/kg before a possible rise.
Mr. Comiskey agrees but adds that as trade developed yesterday morning the factories made deals on transportation and commissions in addition to prices to secure numbers.
When weed comes and farmers decide to withhold those numbers, will factories respond by raising prices, or will they try to follow through?
Around the markets
Patsy Smith said trading was a little quieter due to weaker factory prices and higher volumes.
The top tender for factory type lambs saw ten at 41 kg and an average of €140/h, but the general run of them went down by €4-5/h to €110-130/h.
Although there was good demand for stores, with a peak price of €130/hour for 39kg, these reduced factory quotations were a factor in buyers’ calculations.
Last week there were 1,980 sign-ups, with Nelius McAuliffe counting the numbers saying “we’re at our peak now”.
However, prices did not reach previous sales levels, with lambs costing €3-4/hd.
Example prices included 30kg ewes at €90/hour with similar weight lambs at €84-85/hour while 35kg ewes were sold at €90-95/hour.
Among the lighter stores, 26-27 kg made €70-74/h with light mountain lamb €2.10-2.30/kg.
The lack of grass in the Midlands and East saw fewer buyers from those parts, but with the rains now starting, Nelius expects more buyers.
Lamb prices here have stabilized after falling by €6-8/hour the previous week due to another factory price cut.
Samples included ten ram lambs at 42.8 kg for €100/h, ten lambs at 42.5 kg averaging €134/h, while twelve 53 kg mice earned €136/h.
On the lighter side, 34.7 kg elven sheep were selling for €114/hr, with sixteen quality lambs at 33.3 kg averaging €120/hr.
Deer numbers were strong and met with a steady trade, particularly for the heavier type. The samples included ten 75.5 kg ewes at €138/h, six 87.5 kg ewes at €180/h and fifteen 78 kg ewes at €136/h.
The large numbers of Hoggets met with a mixed trade, with lighter ones being outsold heavier.
Another large sale saw 3,186 sheep offered with a steady trade for fat lambs and the majority of the 44-47kg sold for €125-130/hr and the top call where 50kg sold for €135/hr h scored.
Shop commerce was brisk with an increasing number of farmers again standing around the Ring keen to shop. This additional interest has seen some lots rise by €5-8/hour, with samples of 30kg lambs selling for €116/hour.
29-30kg stores were €84-90/hour with 41kg forward types hitting €110/hour. Heavy culling sheep are sold at 90 kg at a maximum of €190/h, 70-80 kg fetch €140-155/h.
On the breeding side, demand increased the Hoggets to €170-300/hd. Old breeding ewes were scarce and sold for €150-210/hd.
The numbers here were decent at 550. Whilst the trade was sticky in places after a drop in lamb averages of €8-10/hr the previous week the trade closed and saw 47kg lambs earn €130-134/hr with 45kg taking a hit achieved from 125 €/hour
On the shop side, those of 30-35 kg are sold for 90-110 €/h.
Among the culls, heavier 85-100kg offerings were well cared for and sold for €164-196/hour while lighter feeder types fetched €40-85/hour.
Thomas Potterton reported a turnout of 450 sheep; While its trading has been steady, prices had fallen about €10/hd in the last two weeks.
As a result, lambs of 40-45 kg cost €105-120/hour, while lambs of 45-50 kg were sold for €120-132/hour, while a batch of thirteen lambs at 51 kg cost an average of €133/hour.
Trade in sorted ewes improved as lighter ewes were selling from €82 to €128/hour while the heavier ones were at €155/hour for 86.5kg.
On the breeding side, prices were between 150 and 190 €/hd.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/sheep/lamb-prices/quotes-tipped-to-rise-again-as-grass-starts-to-recover-41963301.html Prices have tended to rebound as the grass begins to recover