The sheep trade has started the first full week of processing activity for over two weeks in a solid manner, with the trade strengthening as the week has progressed.

A high percentage of lambs trading at the higher end of the market were moving at a price range of €5.90/kg to €6.00/kg at the start of the week, but this has now moved on another 10c/kg.

Prices negotiated are being very much influenced by the number of sheep on offer and the selling power of the person possessing the sheep.

Regular sellers and groups are trading from a starting position of €6.00/kg, while those with strong negotiating power are pushing prices to €6.10/kg.

Producers or sellers handling large numbers are also, in cases, getting transport costs covered, while at the top end of the market, there are isolated deals being reported on Wednesday at a price range of €6.15/kg to €6.20/kg. It should be noted that this is for very large batches of lambs.

Individual sellers with lower negotiating power have also seen their hand strengthened by a tightening of numbers in the market.

Prices here range from €5.90/kg to €6.00/kg, with some sellers struggling to negotiate these prices looking at the mart trade as an alternative outlet.

It is also clear that factories are willing to do deals for what they deem as lambs of a suitable carcase weight to open up the opportunity of exporting higher volumes in carcase form.

Some factories are offering a 10c/kg to 15c/kg payment on their base price for lambs weighing less than 22kg carcase weight. The appetite for heavier carcases is also being quelled by outlets being restricted by the closure of food service establishments.

IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy is advising producers to continue to draft lambs in a timely manner. “Producers should keep abreast of any price developments to ensure they are getting the best price available. Butchers and wholesalers are also keen for lambs after a good Christmas sales period and this is a good outlet to also consider”.

The trade in the North and Britain has also moved upwards.

Quotes range from £4.80/kg to £4.90/kg or the equivalent of €5.29/kg to €5.40/kg at an exchange rate of 90.6p to the euro.

Factories are having to pay in excess of £5/kg to ward off interest from buyers purchasing sheep for export to southern plants and paying anywhere from €5.85/kg to €6.15/kg, depending on the number of sheep on offer and the negotiating power of the seller.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is firm, with prices ranging in general from €2.80/kg to €2.90/kg for small numbers traded from individual sellers, rising to €3.00/kg or €3.10/kg where traded with lambs for larger batches.