Stalemate in the sheep sector as both sides like to play for a draw

The sheep trade feels a bit like a game where both sides are happy to play for a tie, with factory prices again largely flat this week.

This is a situation that suits the factories. Although feather prices were up as much as 75c/kg higher than this time last year and the national kill was 142,341 more, processors have managed to divert attention from the reality that retail trade is strong.

How else do you explain that 75c/kg extra on the back of those larger numbers? You do this by constantly talking about the percentage of sheep that are overweight and the difficulty of reselling them – and you ignore the trade numbers that really matter.

On the other side of the equation, farmers seem pretty happy to play along because their take-home check is much larger than normal for this time of year, and why would you want to trouble the pitch?

So we’re zero-zero in football.

With the exception of Dawn Ballyhaunis, who yesterday reduced her price for Hogget by 10 cents/kg to €7.00 + 10 cents/kg, all other prices in our price table remain unchanged.

The question is how long will there be any reasonable supplies of Hogget before the factories fully source source?

I think Dawn’s drop to 10c/kg could be a little test to see if it could encourage the last few Hoggets in this part of the world.

So prices for hogget range from €7.00-7.20+10 cents/kg QA with feathers from €7.95-8.10/kg+10 QA and slaughter sheep remain at €3.70-3.80 /kg

ICSA’s Sean McNamara reports that hogget is actually selling between €7.30 and €7.50/kg, feathers between €8.30 and €8.50/kg and slaughtered ewes at €4.00/kg.

Kevin Comiskey from the IFA is largely in agreement, but he expects settlements of up to €4.20/kg for culling.

“The strong demand from factories is reflected in the prices available in markets as factory agents compete with butchers and wholesalers and present a real alternative for farmers,” he said.

Mr McNamara stressed that farmers need to determine in good time where the cut weight for culling is set, as different factories work to different weight specifications.

“They range from 40 to 45 kg, so you need to know,” he said.

The Livestock and Meat Commission reports that northern mills’ base prices have risen to the equivalent of €7.49-760/kg, with their current lamb slaughter in line with 2021 at 6,916.

Live lamb exports to the south rose 671 to 3,476 two weeks ago, helped by the euro’s appreciation last month from €1.20 to €1.17/kg yesterday.

Around the markets

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A slightly larger sell than before, but no slacking off in trading, with prices that are slightly stronger.

On the lamb/hogget side, five lambs at 43kg sold for €165/h, while in the heavier tier, five at 48kg fetched an average of €158/h and two at 50kg fetched €152/h.

On the lighter side, three 40kg lambs sold for €150/hour while ten averaging 37kg fetched €115/hour.

Cast ewes earned €85-175/h, while walking ewes with lambs were €295/hd


Thomas Potterton reported a shortage in the supply of lamb which led to increased trade.

Lambs were sold for €154-174, with three lambs at 48.5 kg fetching €174/h and ten at 48 kg fetching €173/h.

The number of mace sheep has been improved to 80-165 €/h. Sheep with lambs on foot have been sold for €160-265/head, with the top price being for nine ewes with thirteen lambs.

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Since almost all Hoggets have disappeared from this part of the world, most of the 1,692 sheep offered here were spring lambs or cull ewes.

Heavy cast ewes sell for €220-250/hour, lighter types for €150-215/hour.

Spring lambs over 45 kg are sold at €171-179/h, with 40-44 kg at €158-170/h.

Shop-type lambs made €108-140/hd.

Sheep over 50 kg fetched €160-180/hd while nicer ewes were sold for €180-205/hd.

In a smaller entry of ewes with lambs on foot, those with one to one and a half lambs on foot sold for €220-300/unit.


Of the 700 sheep on sale here yesterday, 500 were lambs, with most earning €3.65-3.87/kg depending on quality and meat coverage.

However, in one standout sale, three averaging 40kg fetched €161/h or €4.02/kg. Other interesting prices included twelve 44kg lambs at €170/hour, twelve 44kg lambs at €170/hour and fourteen 42kg lambs at €160/hour.

On the heavier end, two 60kg lambs made €192/hr.

The top call among culls was €198/hd while the small entry of ewes with lambs on foot was €259/head.


850 sheep were offered for sale yesterday with the trade reported as firm.

The top lamb calls were selling 45kg at €175/hr with a selection of 47kg lambs fetching €168-172/hr.

Other prices included 40-42 kg for €157-168/hour while 43-44 kg were sold for €162-165/hour.

Deer sheep were €191/hour for 90 kg. No Hoggets were presented.


Last week’s auction was a decent affair with 616 offered sheep and trading holding.

On the lamb side, the top call saws at 45.5 kg accounted for €174/h or €3.82/kg, but a group averaging 40.5 kg clicked at €161/h or €3.98/kg .

In the heavier class, 49.5-50 kg are sold for €3.42-3.52/kg or €171-174/h.

The culled ewes were 90-95 kg at €174-175/hour, with 106 kg fetching €204/hour. Lighter ewes are sold for €130-140/hd. Stalemate in the sheep sector as both sides like to play for a draw

Fry Electronics Team

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