Base quotes have remained unchanged this week as factories look to secure numbers ahead of the Christmas period.

The throughput on lambs has also remained relatively unchanged at 55,011, which has helped farmers to bargain, with reduced numbers of lambs coming on stream.

Kildare Chilling has held its base quote of €6.50/kg plus the plant’s 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment from last week, with prices paid up to 22kg carcase weights.

Quotes from Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin and Navan remain at €6.35/kg plus 20c/kg QA, with the plants also remaining with a carcase cut off point of 23kg.

While other factories have not lifted carcase cut off weights to match ICM, reports indicate that producers with large numbers of lambs are negotiating higher carcase limits to match.

Similar to other factories, Ballon Meats remains unchanged, with an all-in quote of €6.50/kg. Dawn Meats and Kepak are not officially quoting, with reports still indicate they are operating in the region of a base of €6.45/kg plus 10c QA and €6.35/kg plus 15c/kg QA respectively.

Farmers handling large numbers of lambs or producer groups are said to be securing marginal increases above base prices, with some grading bonuses also available in some cases.

Prices for R grading lambs range from €6.60/kg to €6.70/kg, with top prices from €6.75/kg to upwards of €6.80/kg for U grading carcases.

Top prices reported for non-QA lambs are in the region of €6.55/kg to €6.65/kg for deals involving significant numbers.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade remains largely unchanged, with kill numbers up on last week by 12% to 6,226 head, while price has held steady.

Ballon Meats continues to lead on price at €3.20/kg for good-quality ewes.

This is followed by Kildare Chilling’s quote of €3/kg for QA ewes weighing from 35kg to 43kg, while lighter ewes are quoted in most plants from €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg.

Northern Ireland

The sheep trade north of the border remains fairly robust this week, with no changes to factory quotes, with 535p/kg payable (€6.55/kg inc VAT) for prime lambs at a carcase weight limit of 22kg.

However, factory agents are having to match last week’s deals of 550p/kg to secure numbers on the back of a strong live ring, where top-quality meal-fed animals are an easy sell.

But northern plants are coming under growing pressure to officially move on to a higher weight limit, having been offered deals to a 22.5kg deadweight limit for farmers handling big numbers for several weeks and isolated reports of deals to 23kg emerging.

In Britain, demand for factory lambs is outstripping supply and underpinning strong prices in the region of 590p/kg on a 22kg carcase - approximately €6.90/kg, including VAT.