The sheep trade is starting the week largely unchanged.

Base quotes in the two Irish Country Meats Plants in Camolin and Navan are €5.95/kg plus the factory's 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus, while Kildare Chilling’s base quote also remains on a base of €6.10/kg plus 10c/kg QA.

Some producer groups report the base quote in Dawn Meats and Kepak strengthening by 5c/kg since last week to €6.10/kg plus these plants' QA bonuses of 10c/kg and 15c/kg respectively.

This leaves a high percentage of quality assured lamb trading in excess of €6.20/kg.

More negotiating power

Producers with a bit more negotiating power or trading through groups are securing returns ranging from €6.30/kg to €6.40/kg, with the higher price in some cases confined to U grade hoggets.

There are also reports of some sellers securing returns of €6.50/kg or higher for large consignments of hoggets.

This is being reflected in the mart trade for top-quality hoggets, which incidentally are in tight supply, with prices for well-fleshed lowland lots weighing upwards of 50kg ranging from €146 to €153/head.

Plainer-quality types including mixed batches containing some hoggets lacking flesh are selling back to €140 to €142.

Ewe trade

Reports from mart managers concerning the ewe trade are variable and are strongly influenced by the type of buyers in attendance.

The main factories are quoting in the region of €3.10/kg to €3.20/kg for ewes, with wholesale plants purchasing top-quality ewes to tight specification quoting €3.40/kg and higher.

This is leading to a wide differential in live ewe prices, with heavy fleshed ewes weighing upwards of 90kg selling from €130 to €155 on average, but reaching as high as €170 and higher in isolated cases.

Medium-weight ewes weighing around the 80kg to 85kg mark are trading from €105 to €130, with flesh cover having a big say on price.

Ewes lacking flesh and weighing in the region of 60kg to 65kg are selling from €10 to €20 over the weight on average, while Scottish Blackface ewes are trading from 80c/kg for aged types lacking flesh to €1/kg to €1.25/kg for ewes with a good cover of flesh.

Northern trade

The trade in factories in Northern Ireland is solid, with agents purchasing on behalf of southern-based factories said to be active in mart sales.

Base quotes are unchanged at £5.20/kg to £5.25/kg or the equivalent of €5.92/kg to €5.97/kg at Monday afternoon’s exchange rate of 87.8p to the euro.

Regular sellers with greater negotiating power or those trading through groups are securing 10p/kg to 15p/kg higher.