Sheep factories are keen to get back to normal activity following slight disruption caused by Storm Barra.

The disruption took place on two fronts, with throughput limited in many places, while normal transport routes were interrupted.

Factories are keen to resume normal service as soon as possible and make up for any shortfall in production.

As such, procurement managers have been working hard to source numbers for Thursday’s and Friday’s kill.

Prices at the start of the week were largely steady, with regular sellers and producer groups trading in the region of €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg, with isolated reports of €7.45/kg being paid.

Meanwhile, individual sellers were trading in the region of €7.20/kg to €7.30/kg.

The trade for Thursday has been boosted by Kildare Chilling increasing its base quote by 10c/kg to €7.20/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus.

The experience of recent weeks has shown competing factories following suit, with all factories keen not to miss out on any potential deals.

This led to some reports emerging on Wednesday of regular sellers and specialist finishers securing returns of €7.45/kg to €7.50/kg, while suppliers negotiating in the region of €7.35/kg to €7.40/kg were also being offered allowances on transport costs to secure sales.

Strong demand

IFA sheep committee chair Sean Dennehy said: “Demand for lamb is extremely strong and factories are struggling to fill orders for the lucrative Christmas trade.

“Prices have moved on another 10c/kg and are ranging from €7.30/kg to €7.50/kg, with higher deals for groups and larger lots and carcase weights of 23kg available.”

The trade in Northern Ireland has also rebounded strongly, although there are some plants still quoting at a level well below the going rate.

Typical base quotes are £5.75/kg or the equivalent of €6.78/kg at an exchange rate of 85p to the euro. Regular sellers are securing prices of £5.85/kg to £5.90/kg, with plants reluctant to exceed this level.

Buyers purchasing on behalf of southern plants have been more active in the last week, with the number of lambs imported for direct slaughter increasing by 1,227 head to 7,735.

This has contributed to a significant part of the increase in the weekly kill in southern plants, with throughput rising by over 2,800 head to 52,153.

Meanwhile, the cull ewe trade is solid, with quotes in the region of €3.20/kg.

Regular sellers are securing returns of €3.35/kg to €3.40/kg, with agents handling large numbers securing returns of €3.50/kg and higher.