NI factories have issued the first quotes for spring lambs, with 630p to 650p/kg on offer, down 50p to 70p/kg on last year.
With limited supplies and strong competition in the runup to Easter from butchers, wholesalers and Republic of Ireland processors, most reports put spring lambs on 650p to 660p/kg payable to 21kg.
Last spring, new-season lambs opened on quotes of 700p/kg but deals of 710p/kg were available for larger consignments.
While it is still early days for the 2022 trade, it means spring lambs coming to the market are down £10 year on year.
However, with the Muslim festival of Ramadan under way, processing demand is ramping up and hogget prices are on an upward curve.
Factory quotes are up 10p to 595p/kg, but deals of 600p to 610p/kg are on offer to ward off competition from agents purchasing for southern Irish factories.
Deals are also being made to 23kg carcase weight, but are mainly reserved for specialist finishers handling large numbers.
South of the Irish border, spring lambs are being paid €8.40/kg to a 20kg carcase limit which equates to a sterling equivalent of 670p/kg.
Hoggets are making €7.50/kg payable to 23kg deadweight.
Buying demand for Ramadan is also driving the fat ewe trade. Prices for heavy fleshed lowland ewes range from £200 to £250/head. Ewes with hill breeding are making upwards from £150 depending on quality.
The prices being paid for cull ewes are similar to those for ewes with lambs at foot.