Factories appear keen to hit the ground running on Tuesday to try to compensate for processing not carried out due to the bank holiday in Ireland.

While there is a strong appetite for sheep, plants are digging deep and resisting any further upward on price. Base quotes for Tuesday range from €6.65/kg to €6.80/kg.

When quality assurance bonuses are added in to the mix it leaves starting prices for QA lamb ranging from €6.85/kg to €6.90/kg.

Individual sellers are trading in the main from €6.90/kg to €7.00/kg, depending on negotiating power.

Groups and regular sellers are securing returns ranging from €7.00/kg to €7.10/kg while at the top end of the market, prices reported for deals involving large consignments of sheep are in the region of €7.15/kg to €7.20/kg.

The continued sharp trade in mart sales with prices for heavier fleshed lowland lambs ranging from €157 to €166 on average shows that agents handling large numbers are also getting favourable treatment on price or carcase weight.

Mart managers maintain that the sharp live trade is to their advantage with many sellers and particularly those struggling to negotiate to agents, opting to show sheep live.

Select lots of heavy lambs weighing in excess of 55kg have hit €170 in sales with prices recorded rising to €175 and upwards on occasion.

Ewe trade

A significant difference remains between factory ewe quotes while there is a similar differential in the live trade with some marts recording a very sharp trade with live prices well ahead of equivalent factory quotes. Ewe quotes in factories range from €2.80/kg to €3.40/kg.

This equates to some €24 per head on a 40kg carcase and highlights the importance of ensuring you are receiving the optimum return. Even a lower differential of 40c/kg is significant at €16 per head on the same 40kg carcase.

The live trade is vibrant in many sales and provides a good opportunity for farmers struggling to negotiate with factories.

Northern trade

Quotes in plants in Northern Ireland are firm after last week’s upward movement, ranging from £5.60/kg to £5.65/kg. This equates to €6.54/kg to €6.60/kg at Monday afternoon’s exchange rate of 85.6p to the euro.

Regular sellers and those handling large numbers are securing £5.70/kg to £5.75/kg (€6.72/kg) with plants in Northern Ireland keen to compete with agents purchasing sheep to head south for direct slaughter in Irish plants.