Factory efforts to weaken lamb prices are a crude attempt to panic sheep farmers into selling lambs, according to the IFA.

IFA sheep chair Seán Dennehy said market conditions for lamb are very favourable with prices rising in the key UK and French markets on the run in to the Christmas trade.

He said the “numbers of suitable lamb” are not available and therefore the attempts by factories to weaken lamb prices are “unjustified”.

Market conditions

Dennehy said factory efforts to cut lamb prices in recent days are at odds with “very favourable” market conditions.

He explained: “Prices in the UK for finished sheep have been high, and are rising again recently.

“Throughput at UK abattoirs is down 11% year on year and market reports indicate supplies will remain tight.”

Farmgate prices in Spain have risen

He described how sheep prices in France have “pushed on again” due to it now being “past the annual peak for the Spanish trade with France” and a subsequent drop in lamb availability levels.

“Farmgate prices in Spain have risen. This is also strengthening the trade in France and by extension prices for Irish lamb.”

Factory price

Dennehy said factories are offering €7.30/kg and deals to 23kg to secure lambs, but are meeting very strong resistance from farmers.

“Cull ewes are making €3.10/kg to €3.30/kg in general, with higher prices available.”

Despite factory price weakening, the Cork sheep farmer said farmers should only sell lambs as they become fit.

“Deals to 23kg are on offer and with a very strong mart trade for store and finished lambs, the current attempts to lower prices should be rejected.”