IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy has called on farmers to not sell lambs until they have reached optimum liveweights, as the supply of fleshed lambs remains limited.

“Farmers should sell hard while moving lambs at optimum weights to maximise returns and take back control from factories. Six euro forty cent per kg is paid in most factories today, with some deals to €6.50/kg despite ongoing attempts by factories to reduce prices further,” Dennehy said.

“Farmers cannot continue to be expected to absorb higher production costs on the one hand while allowing the large supermarkets determine the price we receive,” he continued.

The IFA also made known to farmers the international trends that are priming the Irish sheep markets for continued high prices.

A low expected lamb output from the UK, strong Chinese demand for sheepmeat and an increased volume of product moved domestically all indicate a continuation of favourable farmgate prices for finished lambs, according to the IFA.

Meeting with industry

The comments from the chair come before the IFA sheep committee is due to meet with factory representatives in the coming days to outline farmers’ need to capitalise fully on sheep markets.

“We have seen over the last 12 months how consumers are willing to pay higher prices for high-quality lamb supplies from trusted producers. Sales of lamb grew both in terms of volume and value in supermarket sales,” Dennehy added.

The sheep chair also explained that the timely selling of finished lambs will prevent a pull on prices as mid-season lamb comes on-stream into the summer.