The sheep trade is starting the week on a much more positive footing, with factories increasing quotes by 10c/kg to 20c/kg.

Kildare Chilling continues to set the pace, with its base quote increasing 20c/kg on Monday morning to a base of €7.10/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance bonus.

Other plants are slower to increase their official quotes, but they are offering a similar price increase to producer groups and regular sellers in a bid to secure sales and try to entice higher numbers forward. This is witnessing top prices ranging from €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg.

Prices at the lower end of the market range from €7.00/kg to €7.10/kg, but more producers are now becoming aware of upward movement in the market and are holding out for a higher price.

The mart trade has also been much sharper in recent days, with agents giving more licence to pay more to try to establish a good base of numbers.

Fleshed lambs weighing in the region of 50kg to 52kg are trading in the region of €160 to €167, with an increasing number of top-quality lots rising to and in cases exceeding the €170/head mark.

Higher NI quotes

The trade in Northern Ireland has also rebounded strongly. Plants which reduced base quotes to £5.50kg (€6.49/kg at 84.8p to the euro) have increased quotes by 10p/kg to 20p/kg, with most base quotes now in the region of £5.70/kg (€6.72/kg).

At the top of the market, prices are rising 10p/kg to 15p/kg higher, with plants keen to secure supplies and ward off interest from agents purchasing on behalf of southern plants.