The sheep trade continues to perform strongly, despite suggestions by some factories at the end of last week that the trade was starting to weaken.

The trade is being helped by tight supplies combined with steady appetite.

In some cases, there has been a greater appetite for lambs over the weekend and this is reflected in Kildare Chilling increasing its lamb quote to a base of €7.80/kg plus 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) top-up.

It should be noted that this quote was offered for Monday only.

Carcase weight limit

Other plants increased their paid carcase weight limit to 21kg and in isolated cases to 21.5kg to secure deals.

The latter is particularly applicable to wholesale and butcher buyers.

General prices paid range from €7.75/kg for €7.90/kg for QA lambs traded by producers with average negotiating power.

Regular sellers and those handling higher numbers have secured returns of €8/kg, while, at the upper end of the market, a top price of €8.10/kg to €8.15/kg has been paid to agents handling large numbers.

The strong purchasing power of agents is very much evident in mart sales held over the weekend and on Monday.

Mart roundup

At Ennis Mart on Monday, an entry of 480 sheep recorded a 100% clearance.

The top price reported was €173 paid for a pen of top-quality lambs weighing 49kg.

A few other pens of excellent-quality lambs topped the €170 mark, while top-quality lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg sold on average from €160 to €168.

It was a similar story in Kilkenny, with a few pens of top-quality lambs weighing from 46kg to 50kg selling from €170 to a top price of €174 paid for a pen of 12 lambs weighing 50kg.

Lambs weighing 43kg to 46kg are reported as selling from €163 to €168. Lighter lambs weighing 39kg to 42kg sold from €150 to €158.

Ewe hoggets

A sharp trade for ewe hoggets was the highlight in Mountbellew Mart’s sheep sale on Saturday.

Nice-quality ewe hoggets weighing 55kg to 60kg sold from €165 to €182 on average, with a pen of large-framed Suffolk ewe hoggets weighing 76kg topping the sale at €190/head.

A handful of top-quality lambs reached or exceeded the €170 mark, with a top price of €175 paid for 55kg Charollais lambs.

Lambs weighing 44kg to 48kg sold on average from €155 to €165, with quality and flesh cover having a marked influence on price.