The lamb trade continues to strengthen, driven by very strong market demand and tight supplies of finished lambs.
That is according to IFA national sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy, who claims that €6.30/kg is “freely available”.
Factories are sealing deals of up to €6.50/kg to secure larger lots of lambs, he noted.
In addition, weights to 23kgs are “on the table to close out deals”. Cull ewes are making €3 to €3.10/kg.
2020 sheep kill
Dennehy said the overall sheep kill in 2020 was up 75,000 head on 2019 levels with spring lambs making up 57,000 of this increase.
When the extra ewe lambs that have been retained in the breeding flock are also taken into account, numbers of lambs available to factories are expected to remain tight, Dennehy highlighted.
“Lamb sales performed very strongly in supermarkets throughout last year, offsetting some of the difficulties in the food service sector. This trend is continuing,” he said.
Difference of 30c/kg
Sean Dennehy said when all of these factors are combined it creates favourable market conditions for lamb sales.
He said there is up to 30c/kg of a difference in prices offered by some factories.
The IFA sheep chairman stressed that farmers should move lambs as they become fit, but to “sell hard to maximise returns and drive on prices”.
Dennehy said competition between factory agents and wholesalers in marts is underpinning the trade, with returns from mart sales comparable to and in some cases, above some factory prices.
He said the mart is providing a real competitive alternative for farmers unable to secure the higher end prices that factories are paying.