There has been a slight improvement in the sheep trade on Monday, with base quotes increasing by 10c/kg over the weekend.

Kildare Chilling has resumed quoting and was offering a base price of €6.10/kg plus a 10c/kg quality assurance bonus on Monday.

The two Irish Country Meats plants also raised their base quotes offered to producer groups to €5.90/kg and were keen to try to entice numbers forward.

This, combined with the high base quote in Kildare, raises prices paid to groups to €6.25/kg to €6.30/kg. There are reports of 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher being paid to specialist finishers and those trading high numbers.

The recovery in price is being influenced by two factors. Supplies of hoggets tightened significantly on the back of recent weeks price reductions.

This is said to have suited some plants initially, which reduced throughput in line with reduced demand.

Some plants report that there has been an improvement in demand this week in anticipation of consumers having more spending power as the end of the month draws near and monthly wages are paid.

Mart round-up

Reports from mart sales held on Monday point to continued small entries of sheep and reflect tighter supplies in the market.

As is the case with factories, this is likely to be influenced by some farmers holding off from showing sheep in the hope of the trade improving.

There is more life reported, with prices up by as much as €5 to €6/head.

Ennis Mart

There was an entry of about 310 head in Clare Marts Ennis sales yard on Monday.

Prices for hoggets are reported as increasing by €5 to €6/head for better-quality types, with a wider differential evident between hoggets of varying quality.

Prices for top-quality lots weighing 49kg to 55kg ranged from €148 to €155 in the main, with a couple of lots of heavier hoggets weighing 56kg and 67.5kg selling from €160 and €168 respectively.

A smaller number of plainer-quality hoggets weighing around 47kg to 48kg sold back to €137 to €144/head.

Fermoy Mart

There was an entry of just over 20 lots of hoggets in Fermoy Mart on Monday. Almost half of the lots on offer weighed between 50kg and 55kg.

The best-quality types traded from €145 to €150/head, with a few lots selling back to €140/head.

A few lots of store lambs weighing around the 40kg to 42kg mark sold from €109 to €122, with flesh cover having a big say on prices paid.

Athenry Mart

There was also a much smaller entry of hoggets in Athenry Mart in Co Galway, with about 35 lots on offer.

There was keen demand between butcher and wholesale buyers, with factory agents also anxious for lambs.

The number of fleshed top-quality lambs failed to satisfy demand, with eight lots of hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg selling from €150 to €156/head.

A couple of lots of similar-weight but lesser-quality hoggets sold back to €145/head.

Hoggets weighing 47kg to 48kg sold from €130 to €135, with lighter fleshed lots weighing 43kg to 44kg selling from €125 to €128/head. Store lambs weighing 35kg to 37kg sold from €85 to €90/head on average.

Kenmare Mart

While the majority of sheep on offer in Kenmare Mart in Kerry were store hoggets, the upturn in demand for slaughter-fit sheep was evident in an entry of about 10 lots of heavy hoggets.

The hoggets were a mixture of Scottish Blackface and crossbred types. Hoggets weighing 47.8kg to 54kg sold from €140 to €143/head, with a couple of lots weighing 57kg selling for €145/head.

The trade for light hoggets remains challenging, with small-framed and light hoggets weighing from 20kg to 30kg averaging around the €1.80/kg to €1.90/kg mark, while better-quality lots in this weight category sold to €2.20/kg to €2.30/kg.

Demand for heavier store was firmer with average prices for hoggets weighing from 30kg to 40kg averaging around the €2.10/kg to €2.30/kg mark, while heavier lambs weighing from 40kg to 50kg averaged from €2.40/kg to €2.50/kg.