The downward pressure on sheep prices which materialised over the weekend has followed through the week with lamb prices falling by 10c/kg.

Base quotes have all come back in line, with reports indicating factories are working off a base ranging from €6.25/kg to €6.40/kg.

There are only three plants officially quoting in the price table for Thursday – the two Irish Country Meats Plants in Camolin and Navan and Ballon Meats.

The two ICM plants are working from a base of €6.25/kg plus their 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment, while Ballon Meats is offering €6.50/kg all-in.

When quality assurance (QA) payments are taken into account, it leaves QA lambs trading at entry level to the market at €6.40/kg to €6.50/kg.

Regular sellers and groups are securing returns ranging from €6.55/kg to €6.60/kg, with top prices at €6.65/kg to €6.70/kg.

Reports indicate that most plants are trying to curtail upper prices at €6.60/kg to €6.65/kg.

Processors blame more challenging market conditions as being responsible for the slippage in the trade.

A lull in demand in key export markets and higher volumes of New Zealand and Australian sheepmeat availability are raised as two contributing factors.

However, it is hoped that demand will recover on the back of positive Christmas orders.

The trade is expected to steady. Numbers of top-quality lambs remain in relatively tight supply.

Last week’s sheep kill was recorded at 59,741 head, marginally higher than the previous week.

Throughput is running 6,171 head higher than the corresponding week in 2022, with the consequences of lower lamb performance earlier in the season now being seen.

Ewe trade

The ewe kill remains relatively low at 6,249 head. Ewe throughput continues to run below 2022 levels, with the corresponding weekly kill 500 head lower, while year-to-date throughput is almost 50,000 head lower.

The trade in factories remains unchanged, with quotes ranging from €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg in the main and rising to €3/kg to €3.20/kg for heavy-carcase ewes.

The lift in the live trade recorded last week is more variable this week, with many mart sales still recording a lively trade for top-quality fleshed ewes.

NI trade

The trade in Northern Ireland is unchanged, with base quotes at £5.30/kg.

Groups and regular sellers are securing 10p/kg above quotes, with top prices rising to £5.45/kg.

Factories are keen to try and hold on to higher numbers and limit numbers travelling south.

The number of sheep exported to factories in Ireland for direct slaughter last week was recorded at 8,640, down 2,000 head on the previous week.