The recent recovery in sheep prices continues, with factories increasing base quotes by a further 5c/kg to 10c/kg this week.

This leaves base quotes ranging from €5.95/kg to €6.10/kg, but there are no lambs moving for less than €6/kg.

Individual sellers with lower negotiating power are securing returns of €6.10/kg to €6.20/kg, while producer groups and regular sellers are pushing flat-rate prices to €6.30/kg to €6.35/kg.

Top prices including conformation bonuses are rising to €6.40/kg or slightly higher.

Some producers are also having more success in securing an extra 0.5kg limit on carcase weight with some factories paying 22kg to select producers or producer groups. Agents purchasing through marts are also securing more favourable terms given their increased level of activity.

The strengthening in the trade comes as supplies continue to tighten. Department of Agriculture weekly kill data shows last week’s throughput reducing by just over 3,000 head to 58,971. The reduction in lamb throughput is in excess of 4,000 head, with the overall kill figure hiding the fact that ewe and ram throughput increased by 1,142 to 10,640.

Ewe prices remain unchanged, with some factories working through a build-up in numbers which had emerged in recent weeks.

Reports indicate this could be coming to an end now and this tallies with some mart managers reporting agents showing more interest. The general run of prices range from €3.00/kg to €3.20/kg, with Ballon Meats continuing to lead the trade on €3.30/kg.

The trade in Northern Ireland is also on an upward trend. Quotes have risen in cases by 10p/kg, but factories are trying to resist prices going beyond a range of £4.90/kg to £5.00/kg or the equivalent of €5.66/kg to €5.78/kg at Wednesday afternoon’s exchange rate of 86.5p to the euro.

The trade in marts has strengthened by anywhere from £2 to £5 per head, with agents purchasing on behalf of southern factories also said to be more active in sourcing lambs.

The number of sheep killed in NI plants last week increased by 671 head to reach 10,656, while the number of sheep exported south for direct slaughter was 1,574 head lower at 7,666.

The trade in Britain is also recovering strongly, with the AHDB reporting the standard quality quotation (SQQ) price standing 11p/kg higher on Tuesday at £2.31/kg. The deadweight price for last week was 14p/kg lower at an average of £4.94/kg but prices this week are also rallying increasing from 10p/kg to 15p/kg.