Factories have started slaughtering the first spring lambs of the season over the last week.
Base quotes at the start of this week are reported as ranging from €7.40/kg to €7.50/kg, with prices paid for quality assured lamb averaging in the region of €7.50/kg to €7.60/kg for sellers trading individually and rising to €7.70/kg for lambs traded through groups.
The two Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin and Navan are quoting a base of €7.45/kg plus the company’s 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment to a carcase weight limit of 20.5kg.
Kildare Chilling is quoting a base of €7.40/kg plus its 10c/kg QA payment to a carcase weight limit of 19kg.
Other plants not quoting are reported as working from a base quote of €7.50/kg, with the carcase weight limit said to be in the region of 20kg.
With prices and weight limits varying significantly, producers should assess the type of lambs on hand and weigh up the most lucrative outlet.
Reports indicate that lambs are killing positively, despite the challenging weather in recent weeks, and this is another factor that needs to be taken into account when drafting lambs.
Depending on the prices on offer and weight limits, heavy spring lambs may be worth more if valued at hogget price.
A couple of plants are active for small quantities of milk lamb, with prices quoted in the region of €9/kg. This is typically for lambs weighing between 10kg and 14kg, with contracts generally filled by farmers targeting small numbers to this market.
It may be an option for some farmers faced with significant weather-related challenges to explore.
The hogget trade continues on its recent upward trend, with quotes for Tuesday up 10c/kg since last Thursday.
Quotes range from €6.45/kg in the two ICM plants to €6.60/kg in Kildare Chilling.
When the QA payment is factored into the price, hogget prices are starting at €6.65/kg to €6.70/kg.
Regular sellers and groups are securing returns ranging from €6.80/kg to €6.90/kg, with prices at the top end of the market rising to €7/kg and higher for large batches.
The trade in marts in recent days demonstrates that factories are being given greater scope, with prices rising by €2 to €4/head on average.
Monday’s sale in Ennis Mart in Co Clare saw well-fleshed hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg trading from €102 to €105 over the weight, with a selection of hoggets topping the €160/head mark.
A smaller sale in Kilkenny Mart generated increased competition, with auctioneer George Candler reporting top-quality hoggets weighing from 54kg to 60kg selling from €160 to €162/head on a number of occasions.
Lighter fleshed lots weighing 47kg to 49kg also sold from €100 to €104 with the weight.