The majority of factories have released their Christmas working schedules.

Plants are working as normal for the coming week leading into the Christmas break, with a number of procurement agents advising farmers to draft sheep in a timely manner and to present only the number of animals booked in for slaughter.

Plants will be closed on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 December and will resume processing on Wednesday 27 December to fill fresh meat orders.

Processing will be at a slightly lower capacity from Wednesday 27 December to Friday 29 December.

Factories will again resume processing quickly after New Year’s Day, with plants getting back to normal activity from Tuesday 2 January.

Where farmers intend on presenting sheep for slaughter during Christmas week, they are advised to contact their procurement manager well in advance. A high percentage of sheep are typically supplied during this period by agents or producers handling large numbers.

Next week’s quotes

Reports indicate there is no change to next week’s base quotes, which continue to range from €6.35/kg to €6.50/kg.

It appears there is no pressure on plants to raise quotes with supplies balanced with demand. A significant number of lambs are trading from individual sellers from €6.55/kg to €6.65/kg.

Farmers selling through producer groups are securing returns ranging from €6.65/kg to €6.75/kg for quality assured R grading lambs, with top prices including producer bonuses rising to upwards of €6.80/kg.

There is still variance between plants in terms of paying to 23kg carcase weight and farmers should check this in advance of moving sheep to ensure they are getting the maximum returns available.