Huge sheep numbers flood factories and marts

Marts and sheep processing factories in County Roscommon and throughout the west of Ireland were flooded with sheep this week, as local farmers sought to take advantage of higher prices while foot-and-mouth restrictions prohibit the exportation of sheep from Britain. IFA Development Officer Adrian Leddy noted that many farmers are trying to beat the August 25th deadline, when an EU decision may allow the resumption of the export trade in Britain. ‘The first thing is that foot-and-mouth seems to be under control in England. We have reports of other suspect herds, but it does look as if they will be proved negative, that the English authorities don’t fear any danger from them. ‘The situation there at the moment is that they are allowing more movement to slaughter cattle and sheep, but they still can’t export. The EU will make a decision on August 25th, if they will allow movement, that’s if there are no foot-and-mouth outbreaks. ‘They may allow the British to export and they will be back in competition in the French markets. At the moment farmers are moving a lot of sheep to marts and factories, so much so that factories were declining to take in lambs. Some farmers were told they wouldn’t be killing the sheep until next week. We have reports where marts nearly had to turn away farmers with sheep, with the amount coming out. Everyone is trying to sell by the 25th deadline.’ What are the implications for sheep numbers later in the year? ‘I would hope that the factories would be able to keep up the prices, there would be no reason for dropping the price. There is no huge surplus of quality lambs out there. We would hope that the factories would be able to keep up the prices for lamb.’ ‘There are huge numbers of sheep being taken to the factories and factories are reluctant to take in more. That is reflected in the prices in the mart in the last few days,’ concluded Mr. Leddy.