Factories have been working hard since the middle and end of last week to try to regain some form of control over the lamb trade.

They are working on two fronts – reducing quotes immediately on offer and talking down the trade on the back of what they describe as difficult market conditions.

Quotes have reduced by 10c/kg to 20c/kg, with some plants also slow to quote. This is leaving base quotes in the main ranging from €6.85/kg to €7.00/kg.

The reduction in quotes has opened up a greater differential in prices paid, with regular sellers still moving lambs at the top end of the market ranging from €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg and high as €7.45/kg to €7.50/kg in isolated cases on Monday.

Producer groups are 10c/kg to 15c/kg back from this price, with prices ranging on average from €7.10/kg to €7.25/kg when conformation bonuses are added into the price.

Individual sellers are being offered prices of €7.00/kg to €7.15/kg for quality assured (QA) lamb, depending on the plant purchasing.

Mart trade

Reports from mart sales held on Monday point to lambs being easier to the tune of €2 to €4 per head.

Some mart managers have commented that part of this reduction is due to quality, with top-quality lambs holding their own.

Prices for top-quality wether and ewe lambs weighing from 50kg to 54kg range in general from €160 to €166, with a selection of excellent-quality lots attracting butcher and wholesale attention and rising to €170 per head on occasion.

Ram lambs of a similar weight are in cases selling from €155 to €162, with the exception being heavy ram lambs weighing in excess of 55kg and killing full weight.

Fleshed lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg continue to record a wide price differential, ranging from €149 to €159 and directly influenced by quality.

It is a similar story for lighter-weight fleshed lambs, with lots weighing 44kg to 46kg trading from €136 to €147, while similar-weight store lambs lacking flesh are trading back to €130 per head and lower for poor-quality types.