This year’s sheep trade continues to well and truly buck the normal trends, with prices running €1.24/kg above the corresponding period in 2020 and increasing on a weekly basis.

Quotes for this week are starting from a 5c/kg to 10c/kg stronger position.

Base quotes continue to deviate from prices paid at the higher end of the market and range between plants from €6.10/kg to €6.30/kg, with Kildare Chilling’s 10c/kg increase ensuring it continues to lead the quotes table.

Individual sellers with lower negotiating power are generally trading quality assured (QA) lambs from €6.30/kg to €6.40/kg, while groups and sellers with greater negotiating power are achieving returns of €6.45/kg to €6.50/kg and as high as €6.60/kg including conformation bonuses or the equivalent of this price when allowances on transport costs are added in to the mix.

Mart trade edges upwards

The mart trade is also edging upwards, with sales held over the weekend and on Monday recording a price increase ranging anywhere from €2 to €5 per head.

In Athenry Mart, Co Galway, lambs weighing upwards of 50kg sold on average from €140 to €145, with a pen of excellent-quality lambs at 50kg selling for €149 and lambs weighing 62kg achieving the top price of €166 per head.

Lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg sold on average from €132 to €139, with plainer quality lots lacking flesh selling back to €125, while a few pens of lighter ewe lambs weighing 39kg to 42kg hit €130.

'Phenomenal trade'

The trade in Kilkenny on Monday was described by auctioneer George Candler as phenomenal, with butcher lambs peaking at €150 for a pen of quality lambs weighing 54kg.

Lambs weighing in excess of 49kg and rising to 53kg are reported as selling from €140 to €146 in the main, with a couple of lots reaching €149.

Lighter but fleshed lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg are reported as selling from €124 to €134.

Ennis Mart in Co Clare reported that some of the top butcher lambs on offer were stronger to the tune of up to €10 per head, with the hammer falling on a pen of excellent-quality lambs weighing 50kg at €157 per head.

Lambs weighing around the 49kg to 53kg mark sold from the low-€140s to €148/€149 or from €2.80/kg to €2.90/kg.

Store lambs were also reported as being a much better trade, with prices ranging from €2.90/kg to €3.10/kg on average.