This week’s sheep trade is starting a day later due to the holiday Monday and factories appear keen to make up for lost time, with many aiming to handle higher numbers on Tuesday.

Reports indicate supplies of well-fleshed slaughter-fit lambs remain tight and this is evident in the strong activity from factory agents in mart sales in recent days and also through agents making contact with producers in a bid to gauge numbers coming forward.

Quotes and prices paid are steady at last week’s levels. Base quotes range from €6.00/kg to €6.20/kg, with a high percentage of quality-assured lambs trading between €6.20/kg and €6.35/kg.

Negotiating power

The price achieved depends on the negotiating power of producers, with reports showing top prices rising to €6.40/kg and slightly higher in isolated cases when allowances on transport costs and lamb conformation bonuses are included.

Butcher and wholesale buyers are particularly keen for suitably fleshed lambs, with competition levels stepping up a notch in mart sales.

Top-quality lambs weighing 48kg to 50kg upwards are in short supply and this has underpinned prices, which are ranging from €135 to €140 and higher in cases.

Fleshed lambs weighing 45kg to 47kg are trading from €125 to €132 for the best-quality types, with lots lacking flesh selling back to €120 and under.

The trade for ewes is also solid, with factory quotes unchanged at a range of €3.20/kg to €3.50/kg.

Regional differences

Regional differences remain on paid carcase weight limits. These are ranging from 40kg to 46kg, with some plants also keen for lighter ewes weighing less than 35kg carcase weight.

The advice is simple – with the mart trade continuing in excellent form for cull ewes, producers should weigh up all the options available and opt for the outlet which reaps the best reward for the type of ewes on hand.

Heavy-fleshed ewes weighing in the region of 90kg to 100kg upwards continue to trade in the main from €150 to €180 in mart sales, with select lots to €200 and even higher for super-quality cull pedigree ewes or well-conformed ewes.