All marts are reporting a more challenging trade for lambs this week, but the degree to which prices have reduced varies significantly across sales.
Some sales have seen top prices for good-quality lambs struggle to get significantly above the €150 mark, while others report good-quality lambs weighing 50kg and upwards selling to €155/head with select lots of heavy butcher-type lambs selling to €158 to €160/head.
Many managers also report a tightening in the price differential for fleshed lambs weighing from 47kg to 50kg, with prices here not far off those paid for heavier lots. This is being driven by factory price penalties on heavier carcases.
Hill lambs such as Cheviot rams or wethers and first-crosses from Scottish Blackface ewes are trading on average from €2.80/kg to €3.00/kg
The trade for store lambs is holding pretty solid in comparison, with good-quality lowland lambs still trading in the region of €2.90/kg to €3.10/kg and as high as €3.20/kg for well-presented lots.
Confidence in the trade for longer-keep lambs is also holding, with specialist finishers remaining active.
Hill lambs such as Cheviot rams or wethers and first-crosses from Scottish Blackface ewes are trading on average from €2.80/kg to €3.00/kg, with male Scotch lambs selling anywhere from €2.20/kg to €2.65/kg, depending on quality.
Ewes weighing in the region of 80kg are trading from €125 to €160, with flesh cover and carcase conformation having a big say on prices
The cull ewe trade is solid in contrast, with buyers sourcing ewes for live export or for the wholesale trade anxious for good-quality ewes. Heavy ewes weighing upwards of 90kg are trading from €145 to €175, with select lots above this range.
Ewes weighing in the region of 80kg are trading from €125 to €160, with flesh cover and carcase conformation having a big say on prices.
Meanwhile, lighter fleshed ewes weighing 70kg to 75kg are trading from the high €90s to €110/€115, while Scottish Blackface ewes are trading from €1/kg to €25 over the weight.
There are small numbers of ewes with lambs at foot and in-lamb ewes appearing in sales. Quality reports are very mixed, with ewes with lambs at foot selling anywhere from €230 to in excess of €300 for twin lamb lots, with single lamb lots from €150 to €250, with younger or large-framed ewes and stronger lambs at the higher end of the price range.
Demand for in-lamb ewes is sluggish, but quality is also limiting. Young ewes carrying 1.7 to two lambs are trading from €170 to €210, with aged and light single lamb lots back to €110 to €140/head.