The sheep trade has been more subdued over the weekend.

Reports indicate that numbers coming on stream in recent days have been strong and this has allowed factories to gain an edge in negotiations and dig in on price.

This has, in some cases, narrowed the differential in prices paid, with factories reluctant to exceed a price of €7.00/kg.

Entry level

At entry level to the market, prices on offer to producers with lower negotiating power are in the region of €6.70/kg to €6.80/kg for quality assured lambs.

Producer groups and regular sellers are pushing returns to €6.85/kg to €6.90/kg in the main, with higher prices paid where payment mechanisms include a bonus for U or E grading lambs.

At the top end of the market, specialist finishers and agents handling large numbers are being offered prices ranging from €6.95/kg to €7.00/kg, equating to a reduction of 5c/kg to 10c/kg for some sellers.

Mart trade

The mart trade has been largely steady in sales held on Monday and over the weekend.

Auctioneer George Candler reported on a small sale of 300 head in Kilkenny, with prices steady or a shade stronger than last week.

A top price of €164 was recorded on two occasions for a batch of 24 hoggets weighing 55kg and a batch of 10 weighing 54kg.

Outside of these two prices, the general run of hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg sold from €100 to €106 over the weight.

There was also a good trade for lighter fleshed hoggets, with a batch of top-quality lots weighing 48kg a standout of the sale with the hammer falling at €155.

Cull ewes were also steady and peaked at a fine price of €180/head.

Throughput in Ennis Mart, Co Clare, was boosted by one producer showing 90 hoggets. A top price of €161 was recorded for nine hoggets weighing 54.5kg.

The general run of prices for hoggets weighing from 49kg to 54kg was €100 to €104 with the weight.

There was a tight differential in prices paid and this was reported as stemming from an entry of well-fed factory and butcher-type sheep.

Cull ewes were a solid trade, with a top price of 171kg recorded for a large-framed fleshed ewe weighing 123kg.