The sheep trade is starting the week in a positive manner, with factory prices rising by another 5c/kg to 10c/kg over the weekend.

The increase in price comes as numbers of slaughter-fit lambs continue to tighten.

Base prices now range on average from €5.90/kg to €6.10/kg, pushing prices for quality assured lamb to north of €6/kg.

Producers selling on a regular basis are securing returns of €6.10/kg to €6.20/kg.

Producer groups and sellers with greater negotiating power are securing returns of €6.30/kg to €6.35/kg, with top prices rising to €6.40/kg when conformation bonuses are included for U grading lambs.

Sharp mart trade

The tightness in supply also resulted in a sharper trade in mart sales on Monday, with many mart managers reporting prices for factory lambs strengthening to the tune of €2 to €4 per head.

Lambs weighing 45kg to 48kg are trading anywhere from €125 to €132 per head, depending on condition, with heavier lambs capable of delivering full weight carcases selling to €135 and higher in cases.

Select lots of excellent-quality butcher and wholesale-type lambs are selling to €140 to €142 and on occasion to as high as €145 per head.

NI trade

The trade in Northern Ireland is also on an upward trend, with quotes rising by 10p/kg and regular sellers not willing to move lambs below a price of £5/kg.

Mart sales are also enjoying a more buoyant trade, with finished lamb prices rising by £1 to £3 on average.