Reports from mart managers and analysis of sales show prices easing in many sales since the start of the week.
Managers report factory agents being more cautious in their bidding behaviour and reflecting factory price pressure (see Sheep Trends), with prices easing by anywhere from €2 to €4/head.
Lambs weighing 52kg and upwards and top-quality lots weighing 50kg to 51kg are trading from €157 to €164/head, with the best-quality lots attracting butcher and wholesale buyer attention selling to €168 and on occasion in small numbers to €170/head. The latter prices are confined to excellent-quality lots.
Plainer-quality lambs weighing 50kg to 51kg are trading back to €150/head for lots lacking flesh.
The pressure on finished lamb prices is also feeding down into pressure on store lamb prices
The high number of heavy carcase lambs reported in the kill is leading to some agents being more anxious for well-fleshed lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg.
Prices here range from €145 to €155, with flesh cover and kill-out potential having a large influence on prices paid.
The pressure on finished lamb prices is also feeding down into pressure on store lamb prices.
Managers also report that the recent inclement weather has slowed demand for longer-keep stores, but this could quickly change at this time of the year with a spell of improved weather.
Stores weighing 36kg to 39kg are trading from €2.70/kg to €2.90/kg on average, with top-quality lots rising to and exceeding €3/kg.
Light male hill lambs and plainer-quality light crossbred lambs which will struggle to feed into French lamb carcase weights are trading anywhere from €2.15/kg to €2.40/kg. Short-keep lowland store lamb prices are averaging in the region of €2.80/kg to €3.00/kg.
Prices for heavy carcase ewes are unchanged and range in general from €135 to €170
The cull ewe trade is steady, with higher numbers on offer following the Christmas break and scanning taking place, but still relatively tight.
Prices for heavy carcase ewes are unchanged and range in general from €135 to €170, with isolated sales above this level. Ewes in the region of 80kg to 85kg range from €120 to €140 on average, with lighter lowland lots selling from €100 upwards. Ewes with a poor cover of flesh and Scottish Blackface ewes are selling from €1/kg to prices of €1.30/kg to €1.40/kg for heavier better-quality ewes.