There was some respite in the sheep trade midweek, as prices steadied following the recent run of price cuts.

With the bank holiday on Monday, factories are operating on a shorter kill week, meaning fewer sheep are needed to meet throughput requirements.

As such, factories pulled quotes by 20c/kg. This put most plants on €6.30 to €6.40/kg, before the usual top-up premiums for quality assurance are applied.

Once all premiums are factored in, most reports from farmers trading on their own or through producer groups indicated that slaughter-fit lambs were moving between €6.50 and €6.60/kg.


By midweek, there was little sign of factories deviating away from these prices, as the shorter kill week has not backlogged lambs to any real extent.

If anything, the outlook going into next week shows signs that numbers will be reasonably tight and prices could possibly harden.

Quotes for Thursday are on €6.40/kg at Kildare Chilling and Ballon Meats, with the two ICM plants operating from a base of €6.30/kg.

Again, once top-up payments are factored on quality assurance, most reports indicate that lambs are moving off farm between €6.50 and €6.60/kg, with little more than 5c to 10c/kg available at the top of the market for farmers handling very large numbers.

Farmers are also finding it easier to negotiate on price where lambs have been finished with a small quantity of concentrate, as this is helping to increase kill-out percentage.

While there are lambs being finished off grass at the required carcase weight and fat class, factory agents indicate they are handling a growing number of animals killing at fat class 1 and fat class 2 and this is limiting market outlets.


Quotes on fat ewes have steadied following downward pressure in recent weeks, with Ballon Meats on €3.60/kg.

Kildare Chilling is quoting €3.40/kg, while ICM is on a base of €3.30/kg.


The national kill dipped slightly last week, with 48,067 lambs and 373 hoggets processed, while there were 8,616 cull ewes and rams moving through factories last week.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the sheep trade continues to experience severe price cuts, with quotes falling 30p to 35p/kg to a base of 500p/kg (€6.27/kg inc VAT), although some plants are quoting below this at 495p/kg (€6.21/kg).

Prices have eased in the live ring and with less competition in the market, farmers are finding it difficult to negotiate beyond the 500p/kg mark.

The most that is available is 5p to 10p/kg above quotes, but this is in exchange for bigger numbers of in-spec lambs.

Prices in Britain have also eased with reports of 510p to 530p/kg on offer, with live lambs at 240p/kg.

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