This week’s trade is starting on a brighter note in a number of plants, with reports indicating that Kildare Chilling and Dawn Meats have revised quotes upwards by 10c/kg.

Kildare Chilling continues to lead the quotes table, with its base now standing at €6.50/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus.

This leaves farmers securing €6.60/kg for QA lambs, with prices in competing plants ranging from €6.50/kg to €6.60/kg in the main for QA lambs.

Quotes in the two Irish Country Meats plants remain on the same base of €6.25/kg plus the plants' 20c/kg QA payment.

However, producer groups will be working off a higher base price for Tuesday by means of an increase in base quotes in other plants lifting their average base quote.

Prices quoted at the higher end of the market range from €6.60/kg to €6.70/kg, with plants trying to curtail returns at the higher end of the market at this level.

Some finishers handling large numbers are now also having success in negotiating 23kg carcase weight, 0.5kg higher than the standard cut-off point.

Mart trade

The trade in marts is steady, with factory agents keen for sheep but not willing to pay higher.

Prices in Fermoy Mart’s sale on Monday were in the region of €98 to €102 over the weight for the general run of fleshed lambs weighing 48kg to 50kg upwards.

A selection of superior-quality lambs sparking greater competition between butcher and wholesale buyers saw top prices rise to €105 with the weight.

It was a similar story in Atherny Mart. Overall, prices were €1 to €2 easier on the previous week’s sale, which bucked the norm.

A significant number of heavy lambs weighing upwards of 50kg sold around the €100 with the weight mark. Again, a selection of excellent-quality types sold for €103 to €104 with the weight.

Prices paid for lighter lambs weighing in the mid-40kg range were heavily dependent on fat cover. The best-quality lambs sold from €86 to €93 with the weight, with lambs lacking flesh back to €80 over.

Ennis Mart reports that its entry of 500 sheep included a higher percentage of stores and more lambs lacking flesh. This helped demand for the best-quality lambs on offer, with prices ranging from €98 to €103 with the weight.

Butcher lambs topped out at €159 for a pen of seven lambs weighing 54kg. Lighter lots sold from €85 to €90 with the weight for fleshed lots.

Northern trade

A keen appetite from agents purchasing sheep for direct slaughter in southern plants continues to maintain active competition in the trade in Northern Ireland.

Base quotes are in the region of £5.25/kg to £5.30/kg or the equivalent of €6.12/kg to €6.18/kg at 85.8p to the euro.

It is worth highlighting that prices in Northern Ireland do not include the 5% flat rate top-up that most Irish farmers receive.

Top prices remain at £5.35/kg to £5.40/kg (€6.23/kg to €6.29/kg), but are hard negotiated. Producers struggling to negotiate on price should weigh up their options and assess if the live trade or dead trade is the best outlet.