Purchasing for the Islamic religious festival of Ramadan continues to insert a solid floor under the sheep trade.
While spring lamb throughput is slowly increasing, hoggets are still dominating throughput, although numbers are starting to show signs of falling off in some marts.
The general run of hogget prices ranges from €7.25/kg to €7.40/kg for hoggets traded from individual producers or through producer groups.
Top prices paid, including conformation bonuses for hoggets traded through producer groups and to specialist finishers handling large numbers, are rising in cases to €7.50/kg.
Producers should note that issues persist with the volume of heavy hoggets in the kill profile.
The extent to which heavier hoggets are being discounted depends on the number on offer, the extent to which they are overweight and the producer-processor relationship.
Kildare Chilling continues to implement an upper price of €160 per head for carcases in excess of 25kg, while other plants are imposing 30c/kg deductions on prices.
The trade for spring lambs in factories is relatively subdued in some plants, with factories still concentrating on hoggets.
Prices on offer are in the region of €8/kg for starting quotes, with lambs traded through groups or availing of bonus payments rising to €8.10/kg to €8.20/kg.
The general weight limit is at 20kg carcase weight, with some wholesalers offering payment on an extra 0.5kg carcase weight.
Quotes for ewes in factories are unchanged and average from €3.80/kg to €3.90/kg, with top prices paid to producers with significant numbers on hand at €4/kg.
Agents and dealers handling large numbers are securing higher returns from the market.