The sheep trade remains solid, with tight supplies continuing to maintain a strong floor under the trade.

The rate at which lambs are coming on to the market appears to have slowed somewhat in the last week.

Reports suggest this is due to weather limiting the performance of lambs in February-lambing flocks, with both daily liveweight gain and kill-out potential suffering.

Unchanged prices

The price of spring lambs is unchanged, with base quotes ranging from €7.60/kg to €7.80/kg and a high percentage of lambs trading at a price of €7.80/kg to €8/kg.

Regular sellers and those selling through groups are, in cases, securing 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher, with deals also being completed on carcase weight.

Dealers and agents purchasing on behalf of factories or supplying a number of plants remain capable of securing higher and this is very much reflected in a strong mart trade.

Hogget trade

The hogget trade also remains unchanged in the main.

General prices range from €7.20/kg to €7.40/kg, with top prices reported at €7.50/kg.

There appears to be a greater focus on hoggets deemed out of spec on age, carcase weight and fat score.

It is strongly advised that producers check potential penalties for sheep falling into this category, with some plants threatening to cut heavy-carcase ram hoggets back to standard ram prices, while cutting hoggets deemed significantly overweight back to €5/kg.

Lively ewe trade

The ewe trade continues to provide an excellent reward for heavy fleshed ewes, with the live trade continuing to shade the factory avenue.

Ewe quotes range from €3.20/kg to €3.40/kg, with top prices of €3.50/kg.

There is significant variation on carcase weight limits, with a number of plants continuing to offer a 15c/kg to 20c/kg higher price for ewes less than 35kg to 36kg carcase weight.

Upper carcase weight limits also vary from 40kg to 46kg and this should be explored where you have heavy ewes on hand, with prices possibly stronger in the mart.