When details of last week’s sheep kill are published on Tuesday, it is expected that throughput will be in the region of 60,000 head for a second consecutive week.

The higher-than-normal levels of throughput have been underpinned by factories taking steps to attract higher numbers forward including increasing prices on offer in recent weeks.

The greatest lift in price has occurred with spring lambs. After quotes initially opened at €7.50/kg they have increased to a base of €7.90/kg plus the respective quality assurance bonuses, meaning quality assured lambs are trading from €8/kg upwards.

Kildare Chilling is the latest plant to increase prices with its quote for Monday lifting 20c/kg on last week’s level.


Producers with longstanding relationships with factories and trading through producer groups are pushing returns to €8.15/kg to €8.30/kg.

There are some reports of prices exceeding this level where large numbers are offered or purchased by agents active in mart sales.

It is worth producers considering the type of lambs on hand and weighing up if the factory or mart is a better outlet. Factories are paying to 20kg carcase weight in the main so if lambs are exceeding this level then the butcher or wholesale trade may be a better alternative.

Spring lamb quotes in the north have opened in the region of £6.35/kg or the equivalent of €7.60/kg at Monday afternoon’s exchange rate of 83.5p to the euro.

Most producers are negotiating above the quoted price with reports indicating a significant number of lambs are trading from £6.50/kg (€7.78/kg) upwards.

Hogget trade

The hogget trade is steady. Quotes range from €7.05/€7.10/kg to €7.20/kg. A high percentage of hoggets are trading within a price range of €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg with specialist finishers and those handling large number securing returns of €7.50/kg.

The cull ewe trade remains electric with the mart trade continuing to grab the headlines. Prices paid in some sales for heavy framed ewes weighing upwards of 95kg to 100kg liveweight are in some cases commanding prices equivalent to €4.50/kg to as high as €4.80/kg to €5/kg.

Factory quotes are in the region of €3.80/kg to €3.90/kg. Sellers with significant numbers have no trouble in negotiating a price of €4.00/kg with agents handling large numbers given extra purchasing power but still not in contention to purchase large framed ewes.

They are instead active in mart sales for lighter ewes and plainer-quality types or lots lacking some flesh.