IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy has said the prices have improved with farmers getting €5.50/kg and top prices of €5.60/kg. Ewes were making €2.85-€3.00/kg.
Lambs remained “very scarce” and Dennehy advised farmers to negotiate hard on both price and weights.
With Easter approaching on 21 April 2019, and Ramadan on 5 May 2019, there is “more in the price”, he said.
Dennehy pointed out that hoggets were making €6.10-€6.20/kg this time last year.
Farmers with heavier lambs should look at the options in the marts, as the butcher and wholesale trade was very strong, he added.
On numbers, Dennehy said the weekly kill remained very tight, with only a total of 38,098 head for the week ending 24 March 2019. This was down 31% or 16,724 head on the same week last year. He said the kill figures also showed there had been no processing of spring lambs to date.
On new-season spring lamb prices, some factories had been quoting low prices to try to keep a lid on the opening prices, the IFA revealed. Dennehy said farmers needed at least the same price as last year.
The IFA said that, with the higher costs of meal this year, lambs would need to be coming into €140-€150 per head.
Last week, the IFA accused some meat factories of driving down the price of cattle.
IFA president Joe Healy said there was a “concerted effort” by the meat factories over pricing and accused them of “sabotage” at a time when Brexit is a threat to beef farmers.