After three weeks of upward movement, the sheep trade has come under pressure, with prices falling by 10c/kg since the end of last week.

Factories moved over the weekend to reduce base quotes by 5c/kg to 10c/kg, with all quotes back 10c/kg for Tuesday.

Base quotes range from €6.25/kg to €6.40/kg. When quality assurance (QA) payments are taken into account, it leaves QA lambs trading at entry level to the market at €6.40/kg to €6.50/kg.

Regular sellers and groups are securing returns ranging from €6.55/kg to €6.65/kg, with top prices at €6.70/kg to €6.75/kg. Reports indicate that most plants are trying to curtail upper prices at €6.60/kg to €6.65/kg.

Processors cite more challenging market conditions as being responsible for the slip in the trade.

Numbers of top-quality lambs remain in relatively tight supply, despite numbers rising somewhat in recent days.

Some reports point to an upturn in weather giving farmers more opportunities to draft lambs without worrying about the clean livestock policy.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade in factories remains unchanged, with quotes ranging from €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg in the main and rising to €3/kg to €3.20/kg for heavy carcase ewes.

The lift in the live trade recorded last week is maintained, with many mart sales recording a lively trade for top-quality fleshed ewes.