The sheep trade has steadied following last week’s reduction in base quotes. Tight supplies have helped to steady the ship and this is reflected in last week’s kill figures.
The lamb kill was recorded at 19,454 head, an increase of 3,889 head on the previous week, but down 6,470 down on the same week in 2022.
Hoggets continue to dominate throughput, despite the kill showing a drop in throughput of 1,785 head to 24,151.
This is a contrasting position to lambs, with the kill figure 7,588 head higher than the equivalent week in 2022 and underpinning a steady overall throughput figure of approximately 48,000 head.
Base quotes on lamb for Thursday range from €7.60/kg, plus the 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment, in the two ICM plants, to an all-in quote of €7.80/kg in Ballon Meats.
Kildare Chilling is not quoting for lambs, but the Irish Farmers Journal understands the plant is offering producers a base of €7.90/kg, plus the 10c/kg QA payment. Reports indicate other plants may be trying to cut quotes significantly.
Many producers working on a payment mechanism of average quotes remain frustrated, as returns are in the region of €7.90/kg to €7.95/kg, with groups citing that they are not being rewarded for delivering lambs to a tight specification.
A high percentage of lambs are trading from €7.85/kg to €8.00/kg, with top prices, including conformation bonuses, rising to €8.10/kg.
Hogget quotes also remain at a range of €7.05/kg to €7.20/kg. Producers with significant numbers and regular sellers are securing returns from €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg, with specialist finishers having more negotiating power.
There is a word of caution for sellers, with some plants checking whether sheep have set teeth and, where this is the case, discounted prices are being paid.
Others warn that tail-end hoggets lacking flesh cover or very heavy hoggets will be penalised, with cuts ranging from €1/kg to €2/kg for hoggets at fat class 1.
There are similar cuts being applied to hoggets killing out at carcase weights too light for export or wholesale markets.
Farmers are advised to establish what potential cuts may be imposed if there is any doubt about the suitability of sheep.
Ewe quotes range from €3.30/kg in the two ICM plants to a base of €3.50/kg in Kildare and €3.60/kg all-in in Ballon Meats.
It is worth checking paid weight limits if you have heavy-carcase ewes on hand.
Factories in Northern Ireland tried last week to pull prices, but faced resistance.
Similar attempts have been made again, with this week’s quotes back to £5.55/kg for lambs (€6.72/kg), with prices in the region of £6.60/kg to £6.70/kg (€8/kg to €8.12/kg).
The trade in Britain is solid, with lambs trading above £7.00/kg (€8.04/kg).