Lamb prices have been hit by two pulls over the last week. The first of these occurred at the end of last week, with prices easing by 10c/kg to 20c/kg, leaving factories quoting a base of €6.80/kg to €6.90/kg at the start of this week.

Quotes for Thursday have been dealt another heavy blow, with prices easing by 25c/kg to 30c/kg.

The table is again sparse of quotes, but reports indicate base quotes range from €6.50/kg to €6.60/kg.

This leaves sellers without the potential to negotiate higher prices moving quality assured (QA) lambs at a price of €6.60/kg to €6.70/kg, while regular sellers or those trading through groups are securing returns rising to €6.80/kg and as high as €6.90/kg when conformation bonus payments or allowances on transport are factored in.

Factories remain keen for lambs and cite there is steady demand in export markets, but claim that this is at a lower price level and is the reason for the latest pressure on price. Lamb numbers are increasing, but are still running significantly behind the corresponding period in 2020.

Department of Agriculture kill figures show 52,864 sheep slaughtered last week, which is running 8,869 head behind the corresponding week in 2020.

Reports from some producer groups predict numbers could steady now, with some farmers delaying weaning to get more lambs away at higher prices but now opting to progress with plans given prices have fallen.

It is also hoped that buying for the upcoming festival of Eid al-Adha, which runs from 19 July to 23 July, will kick into place in export markets and help keep a floor under the trade in the coming weeks.

The ewe kill of 5,467 head is running 2,405 behind the corresponding week in 2020.

With prices high in recent months, farmers have kept cull ewes moving, while a strong live trade is also providing competition and seeing numbers exported live.

Factory quotes are steady and range from €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg, with top prices paid to farmers generally recorded at €3.50/kg, with agents securing slightly higher.

Northern plants have inflicted a similarly strong pull on prices, with base quotes of £5.30/kg, or the equivalent of €6.20/kg at 85.5p to the euro, falling by 40p/kg on last week’s quotes.

Regular sellers are securing 10p/kg to 20p/kg above base quotes.

The number of sheep imported south for direct slaughter reduced from 4,139 to 3,502 last week, with exports to Britain for direct slaughter recorded at 963 head.