Factories have again moved over the weekend to try and reduce lamb prices, with base price quotes for Tuesday’s kill back anywhere from 10c/kg to 30c/kg depending on the purchasing plant.

The wide variance in the price pull is also feeding into a wide variation in base quotes, which range from a reported low of €7.00/kg in one plant in the west to €7.30/kg in the east of the country.

There are no real deals being completed at the lower base quote, with prices typically being negotiated from a price of €7.20/kg upwards for quality-assured lambs.

While top prices are rising to €7.40/kg to €7.50/kg and in cases 10c/kg higher where conformation and group bonuses or allowances on transport are taken into account.

The number of hoggets trading has fallen to a negligible level in many factories.

There is still an appetite for good-quality hoggets which are killing within the desired carcase weight range but factories have become much more selective for hoggets deemed out-of-spec. Variation

There is an even greater variation in quotes for hoggets, with prices reported ranging from €6.50/kg to in excess of €7.00/kg where hoggets are being traded by specialist finishers who have a strong relationship with certain plants and are moving the last few sheep.

As mentioned last week, sellers should establish before moving hoggets what cuts will be enforced for sheep exceeding desired carcase weights, short of flesh or setting their first two permanent teeth.

Demand for ewes remains firm, with the live trade in marts continuing to help to keep a solid base under the trade.

Starting prices for ewes are generally €3.20/kg in most plants, with top prices rising to €3.40/kg to €3.50/kg.

Northern trade

Plants in Northern Ireland reduced quotes to £6/kg last week and have been working hard to try to reduce prices to this level since then.

There is no holiday on Monday in NI, with factories and marts operating as normal.

Regular sellers are capable of commanding an extra 10p/kg to 20p/kg from the market, with the mart trade continuing to be a good alternative option to consider for those who normally sell direct but are struggling to negotiate on price.