This week’s increase in factory quotes narrowed the differential which had existed in some mart sales between live and dead prices.

However, with agents keen to get their hands on higher numbers and sale entries falling in some marts, there is renewed competition in the trade, with prices edging upwards again.

A significant differential remains between sales, with some marts with a strong butcher or wholesale trade maintaining their premium.

The general run of prices for fleshed lambs weighing from 50kg to 54kg ranges from €160 to €167/head, with superior-quality and heavier lambs selling to €170 and upwards of €175/head on occasion for very heavy lambs.

Lots lacking significant flesh are selling back to the mid-€150s, with agents reluctant to let any sheep home unsold.

Prices paid for lighter lots are heavily dependent on quality. Quality lambs weighing around the 47kg to 48kg mark are selling on average from €105 to €110 with the weight.

The best-quality lots are exceeding this range and plainer-quality lots with an average to low flesh cover are selling back to €100 with the weight.

The trade for store lambs continues to benefit from the sharp trade for finished sheep. Lambs weighing from 40kg to 44kg are trading anywhere from of €3.05/kg to €3.25/kg, with the best-quality lots topping €3.30/kg to €3.35/kg.

It is a similar story for lighter store, with nice-quality lowland stores selling from €3.10/kg to €3.30/kg.

Hill crosses and plainer-type lambs are trading from €2.80/kg to €3.00/kg, while poorly presented lots exhibiting poor weight for age are selling from €2.40/kg to €2.60/kg-plus.

Reports are somewhat variable on the cull ewe trade. In general, it is solid, but some marts which had a particularly strong trade in the previous week are reporting a more subdued yet still solid trade.

Heavy ewes weighing 85kg to 90kg-plus are trading from €140 to €170, with large-framed heavy ewes rising to €200 on rare occasion. Medium weight ewes are trading from €1.30/kg to €1.70/kg, while light ewes range from €1/kg to €1.30/kg.