Factory prices are starting the week largely unchanged, with opening prices for quality assured (QA) lambs in the region of €9.50/kg in all plants.

Groups and regular sellers are securing 10c/kg to 20c/kg higher, with top prices ranging from €9.60/kg to €9.75/kg.

There is variation in paid carcase weight limits, which range from 21kg to 21.5kg. Sellers should determine the pricing schedule where there is any doubt.

The trade for hoggets also remains unchanged, with numbers reducing significantly over the last week. Opening quotes range anywhere from €9/kg to €9.20/kg for QA hoggets.

There are small numbers moving at these prices, but with a high percentage of hoggets traded from specialist finishers, prices of €9.30/kg to upwards of €9.40/kg are still being negotiated with some specialist finishers still hitting €9.50/kg.

There is greater scrutiny on age and producers are advised to check the status of mouths before moving hoggets that are setting or have set permanent teeth.

Steady ewe trade

The ewe trade is firm, with factory quotes ranging in the main from €4.20/kg to €4.30/kg, but up to €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg and higher is being paid in outlets specialising in the ewe trade.

The live trade remains a good option for farmers struggling to negotiate on price or weight allowances despite prices easing in some marts in recent days.

Good-quality fleshed ewes are trading from €2/kg to €2.15/kg on average, with select lots rising to €2.30/kg to €2.40/kg.

Crossbred and horned ewes are trading from €1.70/kg to €2/kg depending on weight, conformation and flesh cover, while lighter fleshed horned ewes are selling in the region of €1.50/kg to €1.60/kg and ewes lacking significant flesh cover back to 80c/kg to €1.10/kg.

Northern trade

The trade in Northern Ireland is also steady, with lamb quotes in the region of £8/kg to £8.10/kg (€9.40/kg to €9.50/kg), with top prices rising to £8.20/kg to £8.30/kg.

Paid carcase weight limits are 21kg. There is continued firm competition in the live trade, with in excess of 4,000 sheep exported to Ireland last week, while reports indicate upwards of 1,500 head were exported live to Britain from Northern Ireland.