Sheep mart sales have started to follow their seasonal decline, with many mart managers commenting that store lamb throughput seems to have plateaued, while the number of breeding sheep appearing in sales is tailing off significantly.
The trade over the last week has been steady overall, with store lambs up by €2 to €3 in places on the back of increased demand.
Starting with finished lambs first, prices for factory-type lambs range from the mid-€120s upwards for lighter fleshed lots weighing 44kg to 45kg to €130 to €137 on average for heavier lambs weighing up to 50kg to 52kg.
Increased quality lambs in the 50kg to 55kg bracket attracting butcher and wholesale interest are trading from €138 to the mid-€140s.
Store lambs prices range on average from €2.70/kg to €2.85/kg for good-quality lowland lambs, with ewe lambs with breeding potential quickly capable of rising to €3/kg and rising to as high as €3.15/kg to €3.25/kg for lighter lots.
Scottish Blackface and Cheviot hoggets are selling from as low as €120 to €130 for lighter-boned and smaller-framed types
Plain-quality crossbred lambs are selling back to €2.60/kg, while Scottish Blackface lambs are averaging in the region of €2.30/kg to €2.55/kg for ram and wether lambs.
The trade for breeding sheep is very variable, with a wide differential opening up between good-quality and plainer-quality lots.
Scottish Blackface and Cheviot hoggets are selling from as low as €120 to €130 for lighter-boned and smaller-framed types to €160 to €190 for top-quality lots.
The trade for lowland and crossbred hoggets is mimicking this price range, although top-quality hoggets are still capable of selling to €200 per head.
The cull ewe trade is steady, with a bit more bite reported in some sales.
A firm demand for feeding ewes is helping to keep a floor under the trade for slaughter-fit ewes
Heavy ewes are trading in the main from €130 to €155, with select lots rising to €165 to €175.
Meanwhile, medium-sized ewes are trading from €100 to €120 for slaughter-fit lots, with light ewes selling back to €80 to €90 per head.
A firm demand for feeding ewes is helping to keep a floor under the trade for slaughter-fit ewes.
Scottish Blackface ewes are trading in the main from €1/kg to €1.20/kg for light ewes weighing 45kg to 55kg, with some poorly fleshed ewes falling just below €1/kg mark.