Most mart managers report an easing in factory lamb prices to the tune of €2 to €4 per head this week.

While reports suggest there has been an increase in the number of fleshed lambs in the market, this is not very evident in mart sales.

Throughput is at peak levels, but this is being driven by store lambs and breeding sheep, with finished lamb supplies largely unchanged.

Fleshed factory-type lambs weighing 47kg to 52kg are trading in the region of €126 to €137, with quality and the level of buyer competition having a big influence on prices paid.

Butcher and wholesale-type lambs are, in cases, rising to €140, with smaller numbers reaching this level as the week progresses.

Medium-weight fleshed lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg are trading anywhere from €118 to €128, with a solid store market helping to maintain a good floor under the trade at the lighter weight range.

Nice-quality store lowland lambs weighing 38kg to 40kg are trading from the low-€100s to €110 to €116, depending on quality, with poorer-quality types and those lacking significant flesh cover falling under the €100 per head mark.

There is a strong customer base for lighter or longer-keep store lambs, with lots weighing 34kg to 37kg capable of selling from €85 to as high as €100.

Ewe lambs suitable for breeding continue to attract a price premium, ranging anywhere from €3 to €8 higher for standard quality lots and as high as €20 to €25 higher for top-quality types.

The hogget trade has steadied in general mart sales. A price range of €180 to €210 is buying a high percentage of top-quality hoggets, with a few excellent-quality lots still capable of rising to €225 to €240.

Meanwhile, lighter and plainer-quality types are selling back to €150 to €160 per head.

Clearance rates have improved, with mart managers commenting that many producers are resigned to the trade weakening by €15 to €25 since sales began and keeping hoggets moving. Some predict stronger demand next week when payments under the Areas of Natural Constraint are generally made.

The cull ewe trade is easier by €5 to €8 in places, with upper prices for heavy carcase ewes ranging from €135 to €170 on average, with select lots exceeding this range.