This week’s trade is starting in a steady manner, with prices unchanged on levels recorded at the end of last week.

Base quotes remain at a range of €6.85/kg to €7.00/kg, leaving entry-level prices paid to producers with negligible negotiating power for quality assured lambs ranging from €7.00/kg to €7.10/kg.

Regular sellers and producer groups are securing returns of €7.20/kg to €7.30/kg, with prices above this level harder to come by this week. The exception to this are the 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher bonus payments for U and E grading lambs delivering carcase weights less than 23kg, with producer groups facing cuts of 10c/kg to 20c/kg for overweight carcases.

More selective

Procurement agents have also become more selective in their purchasing activity, depending on carcase weight. This is due to many factories working with lower staff numbers and higher numbers of heavier carcases cutting down on the opportunity to utilise the carcase market and putting pressure on throughput through boning halls.

This is also being reflected in the mart trade, with an upper limit on prices some factory agents are willing to pay.

Prices on Monday for heavier lambs weighing in excess of 52kg were generally in the range of €160 to €165, with select excellent-quality lots commanding butcher and whole-buyer attention rising to €170 or higher.

Athenry Mart

This was the case in Athenry Mart, with a handful of top-quality well-conformed lambs weighing 52kg to 54kg selling from €170 to €174. A top price of €177 was paid for quality well-fleshed Charollais lambs weighing 61kg.

Lambs weighing 50kg to 52kg sold from €157 to €165 for good-quality types, with small numbers of plainer-quality lots lacking flesh back to €150 per head. Lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg sold on average from €147 to €152, with top-quality lots rising to €155.

Kilkenny Mart

Kilkenny Mart reported a larger entry of 550 head of sheep compared with its final sale of 2021. Lambs weighing 50kg to 54kg are reported as selling from €159 to a top of €163 on a number of occasions.

Lighter lambs weighing 47kg to 48kg sold from €150 to €155, while store lambs weighing 35kg to 39kg are reported as selling from €2.80/kg to €2.87/kg, with shorter-keep stores meeting the keenest demand.

Ennis Mart

Monday’s opening sale of 2022 in Ennis Mart also had a higher entry of 500 head. The trade was reported as similar to before the Christmas break, with a high percentage of heavy lambs on offer.

Prices for lambs weighing 53kg to 58kg were reported as ranging in the main from €162 to €167, with a top of €169 paid for good-quality lambs weighing 53.5kg.

Lambs weighing 50kg to 52kg sold from €150 to €160, with quality again having a big influence on prices paid.