While lamb prices have eased back from record levels in recent weeks, cull ewe prices remain at record levels for the time of year.
The highlight of the trade is heavy fleshed lowland ewes, with prices running anywhere from €35 to €50 above recent year’s levels.
Online bidding has brought a new focus on the liveweight of ewes, with this not typically a feature of ewe sales before the online revolution.
Heavy ewes weighing 95kg upwards are trading from €150 to €180, with select lots of excellent-quality ewes rising as high as €200 and even higher in isolated cases.
Mediumweight ewes from 80kg to 85kg are also enjoying a vibrant trade, with prices ranging from €120 to €140 per head.
The trade in the marts is being underpinned by buyers purchasing ewes for exporting live or in some cases in carcase form.
Demand in Britain, where there has historically been a strong association with sales of mutton, is exceptionally strong, with ?ewes making the equivalent of upwards of €4/kg.
There is also strong demand in continental EU markets such as Italy and France and it is expected the trade will remain strong with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which runs from 19 to 23 July, underpinning continued demand.
Lamb prices, meanwhile, have come under significant pressure, with quotes falling by 30c/kg in the last week. This leaves base quotes ranging from €6.50/kg to €6.60/kg and prices paid to farmers ranging on average from €6.65/kg to €6.90/kg. Quotes are running €1.20/kg ahead of the corresponding period in 2020 or €24 per head higher on a 20kg carcase.
The store lamb trade has started strongly, as buyers return with confidence. Prices range on average from €2.80/kg to €3.10/kg liveweight .