Live sheep sales resume in Eire

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

EIRE will hold its first live sheep auctions for over four months on Monday (9 July), when marts re-open for specialist breeding sales.

Following just one case of foot-and-mouth disease in Co Louth in late February, this move marks another significant step towards market normality in the Republic.

Live cattle trading resumed in mid-June, but sheep sales have been restricted to those direct from farm to abattoir.

“This is really good news,” said Ray Dunne, policy officer for the Irish Cattle Traders and Stockowners Association.

The resumption of breeding sales means only finished lamb auctions remain banned.

“These are expected to get the all-clear soon, once we have been granted foot-and-mouth-free status by the International Office of Epizootics in Paris,” said Mr Dunne.

The permitting system for moving sheep on animal welfare grounds and for sales direct to abattoirs, has also been dispensed with.

But problems obtaining ear tags have affected throughputs – abattoirs have been obliged to reject untagged sheep since 21 June.

As a result, deadweight prices have remained firm at about Ir1.72/lb (2.88/kg) for finished lamb, well in excess of UK values of 2.10/kg. Last month, Irish lamb was worth Ir1.65/lb (2.77/kg).

“Lamb numbers are not available to meet demand and factories are having to pay much more than they quote to farmers who sell hard,” said Irish Farmers Associations sheep chairman Frank Corcoran.

In Northern Ireland this week, auction marts were re-opened to operate as collection centres for over-30-month cattle.

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