It is a much tougher trading environment for sheep farmers this week, with the level of uncertainty becoming the main talking point.
Much of this uncertainty has been created by the decision of many processors not to quote for supplies for the early days of this week, saying that they were unsure what their requirements would be.
It is not unusual to see some weakening in demand for lambs, following the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, and the start of the EU’s annual holiday season also bringing changes in consumption patterns.
The lamb trade benefited from very good demand and relatively high prices over recent weeks, and sheep farmers were hoping that trend would continue into the autumn.
Instead, prices at the factories quoting for supplies this week are back by 10-30 cents/kg from a week ago, bringing the return at some factories under 500 cents/kg, in a range of 490-505 cents/kg.
The general view is that the trade should stabilise after this blip. For the year to date, the throughput of 1,583,934 sheep is 6% ahead of 2019.
This indicates that there is no overhang of lamb supplies on farms, and processors won’t be able to maintain current intake levels if they cut prices.
The spring lamb throughput is 14% ahead, Sheep imports from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter so far this year are 6% ahead of 2020.
Due to the bank holiday on Monday, the usual mart sales were deferred.