Greater demand for good-quality lambs is inserting more competition into the trade, with prices rising by 10c/kg at the start of this week.

Kildare Chilling continues to set the pace with its 10c/kg price increase lifting its base quote to €6.40/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment.

This leaves quality assured lambs trading without any negotiations at an opening price of €6.50/kg.

Reports indicate that not all factories have lifted their base quote, with quotes in competing plants ranging back to €6.10/kg to €6.25/kg. However, plants are in most cases now paying well above quoted prices to producer groups and those handling significant numbers.

Sizeable numbers

Sizeable numbers of lambs are now trading from €6.50/kg to €6.60/kg, with certain groups witnessing prices rising to €6.65/kg to €6.70/kg when conformation bonuses are taken into account.

There are also reports of 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher being paid for large batches of lambs numbering in excess of 100 head.

It is important to note that the higher prices are being paid for good-quality QA lambs possessing an adequate cover of flesh.

Demand for quality lambs is evident in mart sales, where prices have moved on by €1 to €3/head. Fleshed, top-quality lams are trading from €98 to €102 over the weight, with average-quality lots falling back to €90 over the weight.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is largely unchanged. Quotes in the main lamb processing plants continue to range from €2.70/kg to €3/kg, with plants or abattoirs specialising in ewes paying €3.20/kg to €3.30/kg and higher in cases.

The mart trade is subdued, but it is still worth producers with heavy, quality ewes weighing up their options on selling live or dead.

Northern Ireland

Plants in Northern Ireland are back processing following last week’s strike action.

With a backlog of sheep in the system, quotes are unchanged, with plants offering an opening quote of £5.25/kg (€6.05/kg), but paying up to 10p/kg to 20p/kg higher.

Reports indicate plants are keen to maximise throughput, but are having to balance numbers with their beef kill, with processing at an important stage for filling contracts for the Christmas trade.