The sheep trade is solid, with quotes and prices largely unchanged and, if anything, possibly 5c/kg stronger in cases.

Base quotes for lambs range in the main from €7.95/kg to €8.10/kg, with Kildare Chilling continuing to offer the highest quotes.

Producers trading there are being offered €8.20/kg for quality assured (QA) lamb without any negotiating and this is setting the benchmark entry price to the market.

Some plants are offering lower opening quotes and, according to mart managers, this has been working to their favour by attracting numbers that may normally otherwise go direct from farm to factory.

Groups and regular sellers are securing returns ranging from €8.20/kg to €8.30/kg for lambs satisfying tight specifications, while there are also reports of agents and those handling large numbers securing prices above this range with allowances on higher carcase weight limits.

There are more lambs coming on to the market each week, but as yet this has not had any significant influence on the overall kill figure.

Last week’s lamb throughput was up about 3,800 on the previous week, but is still running about 6,500 head behind the corresponding period in 2021.

The increased numbers compensated for hogget entries falling by about 3,200 head to 13,354. This figure is 7,831 head higher than in 2021.

With lambs slower to build, factories remain keen for hoggets.

Quotes continue to range from €7.00/kg to €7.20/kg, with prices at the lower end of the market ranging from €7.15/kg to €7.30/kg.

Specialist finishers and agents with strong negotiating power continue to secure prices well in excess of quotes, with top prices generally recorded at €7.40/kg to €7.50/kg.

Demand for cull ewes is firm, with quotes ranging from €3.80/kg to €4.00/kg.

Agents and dealers handling large numbers continue to secure 20c/kg to 30c/kg above the going rate, with wholesale buyers active in the carcase trade driving prices in marts, along with buyers purchasing ewes for exporting live.

Northern trade

The trade in Northern Ireland plants has been solid this week, with base quotes rising 5p to £6.50/kg.

Sterling has been trending at a stronger exchange rate over 85p to the euro in recent weeks, putting the outlined prices at a euro equivalent of €7.57/kg to €7.63/kg.

Negotiating power

Groups and sellers with greater negotiating power have secured £6.60/kg (€7.74/kg), but the pressure on factories to source lambs has waned considerably, with plants not processing on Thursday and Friday due to two days’ holidays in the UK linked to the queen’s platinum jubilee.

The number of lambs exported south for direct slaughter last week fell by about 300 head to 3,926.

In Britain, new-season lambs are trading in the region of 660p/kg, although supplies are low, leaving abattoirs reliant on hoggets and paying 600p/kg (€7.05/kg).

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