Reports from sheep sales held this week show lamb prices easing by €1 to €4/head on the previous week.

Demand from factory agents is firm, with buyers reluctant to let any sheep return home unsold.

However, agents have been more coy in their purchasing behaviour and have held back from competing to the same level as the previous week.

A significant differential remains between prices paid depending on the region and the customer base, with marts possessing a strong butcher or wholesale trade faring best.

Lambs weighing 50kg to 55kg are selling at the higher end of the market from €100 to €106 with the weight. This contrasts to sales with a slower finished lamb trade, with fleshed lambs weighing upwards of 50kg selling from €93 to €98 with the weight and falling back below the €90 with the weight mark for lambs lacking flesh cover.

Similarly, lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg are selling from €88 to €98 with the weight and, again, lambs lacking flesh are falling below this mark.

Prices for medium-weight lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg are heavily influenced by flesh cover, lamb quality and potential kill-out.

Fleshed lambs

Fleshed lambs are trading from €82 to €88 over the weight in the main, with lambs short of flesh back to €75 over for plainer-quality types.

Reports on the store lamb trade are equally variable. A price range of €2.50/kg to €2.70/kg is buying a lot of better-quality store lambs in the 35kg to 40kg weight bracket, with top prices 10c/kg higher or more for ewe lamb lots.

Heavier hill lambs weighing 38kg to 40kg upwards are selling from €2.30/kg to €2.50/kg for fleshed lambs.

Prices fall back to €2/kg for longer-keep store lambs, while light lambs remain a difficult trade, selling anywhere from €1.70/kg to €2.20/kg.

Cull ewes

The cull ewe trade has eased in some sales. Heavy ewes weighing upwards of 90kg are selling on average from €130 to €155, with low numbers above this range.

Prices for lighter ewes are more in line with factory prices, ranging from €1.20/kg to €1.50/kg, while hill ewes range from 70c/kg to €1.20/kg.