The sheep trade remains vibrant, with the dead trade and live trade excelling.

Factory agents are keen to maximise throughput and are active in sourcing lambs in direct farm sales and through marts.

Factory price quotes are unchanged on last week and range in general from a base of €7.00/kg to €7.10/kg.

This leaves starting prices for quality assured (QA) lamb in the region of €7.10/kg to €7.20/kg.

There are low numbers of lambs trading at the lower price level, with the greatest percentage of lambs offered by individual sellers trading in the region of €7.20/kg to €7.30/kg.

Regular sellers and producer groups are negotiating returns ranging from €7.35/kg to €7.40/kg, with plants reluctant to exceed beyond this level, although there are some reports of a top price of €7.45/kg being paid at the top end of the market or where conformation bonuses are included for U grading lambs.

Increased mart entries

Marts held since the end of last week have recorded higher entries, with some experiencing throughput increasing anywhere from 40% to 70%.

This follows a reluctance from producers to present lambs in the wake of recent factory price cuts and now being encouraged to show lambs with prices rebounding strongly.

Fleshed lambs weighing 50kg to 53kg are selling in the region of €160 to €167, with excellent-quality types and heavier lots rising to €170 and hitting as high as €173 to €174 on occasion.

Well-fleshed lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg are selling in the main from €150 to €160, with condition having a big say on price.

Some mart managers report a slightly easier trade for store lambs, with buyer appetite and the number of buyers present possibly slackening, although the trade is holding well, with nicely presented lowland stores selling from €3.10/kg to €3.40/kg, while hill lambs are trading from €2.30/kg to €2.70/kg depending on quality.

Weather concerns

Some factories have been keen to operate at a higher level on Monday as a precaution to lower numbers being presented due to Storm Barra. Disruption to shipping schedules has also been raised as a possible consequence of the storm.

The heavy rainfall forecast is also likely to put a greater focus on the clean livestock policy.

Factory procurement managers have noted that there has been greater scrutiny in recent weeks from Department vets and they are advising farmers to be cognisant of the risks and to continue to take steps to ensure lambs presented for slaughter are compliant with the requirements.