Kepak boss: ‘We don’t want heavy sheep’
Producers should not put weight on lambs that they are not going to get paid for, according to Michael Geoghegan, general manager of Kepak, Athleague.
He told farmers attending a farm walk organised by the Roscommon Lamb Festival that the critical thing in terms of spring lamb is that it falls in the correct weight range.
“We paid up to 23kg on hoggets this season. Farmers should be drafting sheep at 50kg ideally. We pay to that weight because we don’t want heavy sheep,” he stressed.
For spring lambs, Geoghegan said Kepak is paying up to 20.5kg.
“At this time of year, we are talking about a 50pc kill-out. Farmers should be aiming to draft lambs at about 38-42kg. There is no point going any lighter. A lamb at 17-18kg dead weight is not coming into enough money,” he added. He also said the hogget price is under pressure at the moment.
“The spring lambs have come faster than we thought. There is a bigger supply and its certainly putting the hogget price under pressure,” he explained.
Mr Geoghegan, pointed out that most of the supermarkets have changed to spring lamb, which is an added issue for hogget prices. “We are paying €6.35/kg for quality-assured spring lambs at the minute.
“You would hope it would last for the month of May,” he said.
Asked why the spring lamb price is 65c lower than last year, Mr Geoghegan said the uncertainty around Brexit resulted in UK farmers killing lambs in large numbers all winter and it has kept the price from rising.
“We also have a scenario where skins are of absolutely no value. I have seen, in my time, skins worth €10 – now we are paying to get them taken away,” he said.