The sheep trade is starting the week in a sticky position. The majority of lambs traded for Monday’s kill are priced off a base quote of €6.20/kg.

Producer groups and regular sellers are securing returns ranging in the main from €6.40/kg to €6.50/kg, with top prices including bonus payments 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher.

Lamb supplies continue to come on stream in a solid manner.

Reports indicate numbers are being bolstered by some producers drafting lambs at lighter weights to reduce feed demand, with grass supplies particularly tight in the east, south and parts of the midlands.

Further pressure

There is further price pressure on the horizon, with plants quoting 10c/kg to 20c/kg lower for lambs purchased for Tuesday and Wednesday’s kill.

This leaves base quotes ranging in the main from €6.00/kg to €6.10/kg, with top prices continuing to run 20c/kg to 30c/kg higher.

Factories are blaming reduced demand in key export markets as putting pressure on the trade, while higher supplies are also reported in parts of Britain where producers have been suffering from sustained drought and are moving lambs faster.

Mart trade

Marts held on Monday report a more challenging trade.

Supplies of top-quality, fleshed lambs remain tight and this is helping to keep a floor under the trade for butcher and wholesale-type lambs.

Top-quality lots weighing upwards of 49kg are trading from €140 to €147, with select lots of excellent-quality lambs rising to €150/head.

The trade for lighter lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg is dictated by lamb quality, with a differential of €10 to €15 not uncommon for lambs of similar weights but varying flesh cover.

Fleshed lambs are trading from €130 to €138, but lots lacking significant flesh are selling back to the low-€120s.

Store trade

The store lamb trade is also becoming more challenging, with tight grass supplies and pressure on finished lamb prices undermining buyer confidence.

This has seen prices for lowland lambs weighing in the low- to mid-30kg range fall to €2.40/kg to €2.65/kg, with prices best and rising to €2.70/kg for fleshed short-keep lambs.