An increase in factory base lamb quotes is inserting more life into the live trade, with agents competing with greater intensity.

Managers report that prices have firmed on average anywhere from €1 to €3/head with the greatest lift for well-fleshed, top-quality lambs.

A high percentage of factory-type lambs weighing upwards of 50kg are trading from €138 to €145, with the best-quality lots and those attracting butcher-buyer interest rising to upwards of €150/head. A marked differential remains between fleshed lambs and lambs lacking flesh cover, with prices falling back to the mid- to low-€130s for lesser-quality lots.

Lambs weighing from 45kg to 46kg are trading from €130 to €135 for well-fleshed lots, with average-quality lots back to the mid-€120s.

ANC payments insert life

Mart managers report that ANC payments have helped insert more life into the store lamb trade in recent days.

Prices in certain sales have increased anywhere from €3 to €10/head for top-quality short-keep lowland lambs.

Lambs weighing 38kg to 40kg are trading from €2.55/kg to €2.80/kg, with select lots rising to €2.90/kg and higher.

Prices are similar for lowland lambs weighing back to 35kg, with crossbred and hill types selling from €2.20/kg to €2.50/kg for good-quality lambs. Meanwhile, Scotch lambs are selling from €1.80/kg to €2.10/kg for forward types.

Light male hill lambs are a very challenging trade. Prices range on average from €1.30/kg to €1.75/kg, with the poorest-quality lots falling below this range. Top-quality lots are selling to €2/kg, with ewe lambs a better trade.

Hogget demand

ANC payments have lifted demand for hoggets. Good-quality lots are averaging from €170 to €190, with select lots topping €200/head.

Light and plain-quality hoggets are trading from €135 to €155 for crossbred and lowland lots with poor weight for age.

The cull ewe trade is sluggish, with a price range of €110 to €130 buying a high percentage of heavy ewes.

Prices for lighter ewes range from €1.10/kg to €135/kg, while Scottish Blackface ewes range from upwards of 60c/kg for poor-quality ewes to €1/kg for fleshed ewes.