The sheep trade has started the week in a steady manner following higher purchasing intensity at the end of last week.

All plants were keen to operate at a higher capacity on Thursday and Friday to satisfy a spike in demand stemming from Ramadan and also meet standard orders.

Reports indicate the strong appetite led to a wide range in prices being paid depending on the number of lambs on offer and the negotiating power of the producer.

While a high percentage of lambs traded in the region of €7.80/kg to €7.95/kg at the top of the market, those with stronger selling power pushed prices to €8.00/kg to €8.10/kg or higher for well-conformed lambs also attracting butcher and wholesaler attention.

Increased supplies

Lamb supplies have increased, but still remain low relative to total throughput, leaving factories continuing to be reliant on hoggets.

Prices paid for hoggets are also very variable, depending on quality and numbers trading hands.

Average returns in recent days are in the region of €7.25/kg to €7.40/kg, with specialist finishers supplying very large numbers since the turn of the year securing higher in cases.

Steady ewes

Ewes are steady, with prices typically ranging from €3.20/kg to €3.40/kg, while top prices have risen to €3.50/kg.

Sellers should note deals are available on carcase weight, with some plants offering a top-up of 20c/kg for ewes killing below 35kg to 36kg carcase weight, while the upper weight limit ranges from 40kg to 46kg.

Returns €40 higher than 2020

The strength of the trade in the year to date is reflected in Kilkenny Mart’s sale report for Monday.

Auctioneer George Candler reported lambs averaged €165/head compared with €126/head in 2020.

At the top of the market, lambs weighing 48kg to 53kg sold from €171 to in excess of €180, while lambs weighing 43kg to 46kg sold from €164 to €166.