A ‘good news’ week for sheep industry

Recent days have seen lamb prices reach near record high levels for this time of the year.

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 7:56 am

“Christmas demand has helped to strengthen the market over weeks,” confirmed Livestock and Meat Commission chief executive Ian Stevenson.

“With the catering sector having opened up across Europe over recent months, demand for lamb has increased accordingly.”

He added:“Lamb numbers also play a key role in determining the strength of the market.”

Sign up to our daily Farming Life Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Brendan Kelly, Chairman at the Ulster Wool Depot

Approximately 75% plus of the lamb produced in Northern Ireland ends up on markets outside the UK. In the first instance large numbers of locally produced lambs are taken cross border for processing on a weekly basis.

Ian Stevenson indicated that lamb prices might soften slightly from next week onwards, given that the processors had now killed the animals they needed to meet Christmas demand.

“Pending lockdowns across Europe should also be factored into the equation,” he stressed.

“But we will just have to wait and see how these issues play out over the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, the 2021 wool selling season sees continuing strong demand and improving prices in the wool market.

This week’s sale saw competitive bidding across the full range of types; prices increased as a result and there was a 100% clearance of the wool offered. There was particular interest in the Blackface wool as well as continuing interest in the Medium & Mule wool and specialist types such as Bluefaced Leicester once again achieved record prices.

Since the start of the year auction prices have increased by over 40% with the average price in this week’s sale reaching 77.5p per kilo.

Brendan Kelly, Chairman, Ulster Wool said: “We remain optimistic that the current strong demand will be sustained, that the recovery in the wool market will continue through the season and that this will result in further price improvement.  As we head towards the winter months, many sheep farmers in Northern Ireland have been delivering wool into Ulster Wool this year who did not deliver in the 2020 season. 

“I’d encourage any producers who still have wool on the farm, to deliver this into us ensuring they benefit from the current recovery in the market.  If any sheep farmers are making a decision to store the wool, you must ensure this is stored correctly, in a clean and dry area of your building and off the floor as wool does draw moisture that over time can then affect the colour and quality, and ultimately its value.”

Ulster Wool’s mission is to drive sustainable demand in order to maximise the value of wool for its members. It does this through the collective marketing of the clip on behalf of its members. 

Mr. Kelly continued: “The only way producers can achieve better returns and receive the true market value for their wool is by supporting Ulster Wool. With a reduced cost base, recovering market and exciting new initiatives such as the recent Wool Britannia carpet yarn launch by the Headlam Group and a Harrison Spinks traceable mattress range we are driving new demand for wool and increasing its value.  This puts Ulster Wool in a much stronger position to deliver better returns for our members.”

Brendan Kelly concluded: “Every kilo of wool handled makes an important contribution to supporting Ulster Wool.  Given our cooperative ethos our scale allows us to provide a high standard of service to all producers, drive demand for wool with our customers and downstream manufacturers, and continue to represent the best interests of all wool producers.”