Num­bers don’t add up as prices start to level off

Irish Independent - Farming - - SHEEP RINGSIDE -

AT first glance, the sheep trade con­tin­ues to push on well, with Kepak Ath­league yes­ter­day rais­ing their quote by 15c/kg to €5.20+ 15c/kg QA.

While the head­line fig­ure might look good, the re­al­ity is Kepak had to add that 15c/ kg to their price just to keep up with the op­po­si­tion, all of whom were at that level a week ago.

Dawn Bal­ly­hau­nis and the ICMs de­cided to leave their of­fi­cial quotes un­changed yes­ter­day, while Kil­dare Chill­ing were not in a po­si­tion to quote.

So, in ef­fect, all the main plants are on €5.20/kg plus bonuses — Kil­dare, while not of­fi­cially quot­ing would prob­a­bly find it im­pos­si­ble to dip be­low that price and hope to source mean­ing­ful sup­plies.

Last week it was the two ICMs who couldn’t make up their minds where they wanted to pitch their price.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, fac­to­ries only be­come re­luc­tant to dis­cuss pric­ing with the me­dia ei­ther when sup­plies are strong or when they are tight — in each case, they don’t want to over­cook the price.

De­spite fac­to­ries claim­ing sup­plies are strong, mart num­bers are re­ported as be­ing far from so.

Fac­to­ries will ar­gue that when the mar­ket be­comes dif­fi­cult at the re­tail side, they some­times can’t quote for sheep be­cause they don’t know what the mar­gin might be. True, but that never seems to stop them buy­ing. Un­like the farmer, who will buy in hope, fac­to­ries buy be­cause they know they can make the sums add up.

ICSA’s newly elected sheep chair, Sean McNa­mara, tells me that €5.55-5.65/kg is where it’s at for lambs, with the IFA’s Sean Den­nehy claim­ing €5.70/kg is the top.

On cull ewes, Dawn pulled their price by 10c/kg yes­ter­day to €2.60/kg.

All other plants con­tinue on €2.70/kg.

Michael Harty of Ro­screa and Ne­nagh marts told me it is no­tice­able at his sales that num­bers are de­clin­ing.

In cer­tain parts of the coun­try, like north Tip­per­ary, as the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the farm is be­ing passed from one gen­er­a­tion to the next, the de­ci­sion of­ten made by the younger man or woman is to cull the sheep side en­tirely and con­cen­trate on ex­pand­ing the dairy en­ter­prise.

This is a greater loss than is ap­pre­ci­ated. Gen­er­a­tions of knowl­edge is dis­ap­pear­ing from th­ese ar­eas as the di­ver­sity of farm­ing nar­rows.

It is not the fault of the farm­ing com­mu­nity: ev­ery gen­er­a­tion has to fol­low the money.

But will we end up with the only mean­ing­ful sheep en­ter­prises re­stricted to the west and north west, as dairy con­tin­ues to ex­pand?

Was paid for 46-48kg lambs at Manorhamil­ton

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