Sheep farmers should hold back their lambs to drive up factory prices, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has suggested.

While noting that delaying slaughter isn’t easy for farmers feeding sheep expensive meal, ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara said it gives finishers a chance to “get tougher in demanding higher sheep prices”.

“Factories are struggling to get lambs and prices are edging upwards,” he said.

‘Having a laugh’

“Last week, I and other ICSA sheep farmers held back our lambs in a stand against the absurdly low prices the factories were quoting.

“The factories were having a laugh at our expense, offering prices way below the cost of production, so a decision was made not to sell,” McNamara said.

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara. \ Denis Byrne

The ICSA sheep representative said that this has resulted in “good signs now that prices will move upwards".

“There are reports that some exports from New Zealand to China are resuming and it is clear that, for the past few months, stronger EU and UK imports of New Zealand lamb have been a problem.

“It looks like the worst of that may be over for the moment, so now is a time to look for higher prices.

“I am hearing of 20c/kg more this morning and I think that the more farmers resist now, the more we can drive the price up,” he said.

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