There is no change in factory base quotes for sheep at the start of the week. Quotes continue to range from a base of €6.00/kg to €6.20/kg.

There are few lambs moving below a price of €6.20/kg, with individual sellers receiving returns ranging from €6.20/kg to €6.30/kg.

Regular sellers and groups are trading on average at a 10c/kg higher price, while at the top end of the market prices of €6.50/kg are being paid on occasion for lambs receiving conformation bonuses and delivered to a tight specification.

The mart trade over the weekend and on Monday has generally been solid for heavier fleshed lambs, while some mart managers report a challenging trade for heavier lambs presented with a poor cover of flesh.

The general run of prices for fleshed lambs weighing 49kg to 53kg ranges from €136 to €142. Demand for heavier lambs lacking flesh cover is much more sluggish, with prices back to €120 or lower.

In Kilkenny Mart, top prices paid on Monday for lambs weighing 50kg to 57kg ranged from €140 to €146/head, while in Ennis Mart, prices were similar, with a few pens of excellent-quality lots exceeding €150/head.

This has been the case in a number of marts for top-quality ewe lambs weighing upwards of 45kg to 50kg.

Store lambs

There has been more life in the trade for store lambs and it remains the case that good-quality lowland stores are meeting the keenest demand.

Prices in Kilkenny ranged on average from €2.65/kg to €2.85/kg, with prices in Ennis ranging from €2.58/kg to €2.90/kg on average and in excess of €3/kg for lots containing ewe lambs with breeding potential.

Northern trade

The trade in Northern Ireland has been dominated on Monday by discussions on the possible negative effects of sterling weakening to 90p to the euro.

Quotes are unchanged at a base of £4.95/kg to £5.00/kg. It is expected that buyers purchasing sheep on behalf of plants in Ireland will now gain an upper hand in purchasing lambs in mart sales or direct from the land.

To put this in context, at an exchange rate of 84p to the euro, a lamb valued at £100 would cost a southern buyer €119. At 90p to the euro, that same lamb would cost a southern buyer €111/head.