Base quotes for lambs in NI have eased by 10p/kg to 515p/kg, but prices are running 15p to 20p/kg above this level, as factory agents look to keep pace with the live ring.

While mart prices started the week on the back foot, falling £3 to £5/head, sales held mid-week were much more positive in terms of price.

Good-quality, slaughter fit lambs are trading between £110 and £115, which converts to deadweight prices of 524p/kg to 535p/kg. Local plants are paying 530p/kg to compete with the live ring and another 5p/kg is on offer for farmers off-loading big numbers.

Factory agents are also extremely active for heavy-fleshed store lambs, sourcing numbers to maintain throughput on kill lines and keep a lid on the trade.

Breeding stock

A super trade for breeding sheep resulted in Mule ewe lambs hitting £255/head at Armoy Mart on Monday.

The highest-priced pen at the annual bank holiday sale was from the flock of John and Brendan Blaney, Cushendall.

Just over 3,300 ewe lambs were forwarded and with no shortage of buyers on offer, top-quality Mules regularly sold from £150 to £195.

The main run of Mule lambs commanded prices between £120 and £150, while a smaller entry of Suffolk Cheviot lambs topped £244/head for breeder Jimmy Delargy, Cushendall.

Buying interest for Suffolk Cheviots ewe lambs was just as strong, with the main run of prices from £120 to £185.

Meanwhile, the annual sale of breeding sheep at Enniskillen Mart saw 2,000 on offer, with hoggets making £140 to £245 across all breeds. Ewe lambs made £83 to £145 and Texel shearling rams peaked at 510gns.