The sheep trade appears to have stabilised following the heavy price cuts experienced in recent weeks.

Base quotes for Monday range from €6/kg to €6.20/kg, with Kildare Chilling at the head of the quotes table with its base quote of €6.20/kg plus quality assurance bonus of 10c/kg.

The factory is sending out a message to farmers to take extra care when drafting any lambs that there may be any doubt of killing less that 16kg carcase weight, with the quote for these lambs at €5.20/kg.

Other plants are also warning of cuts ranging from 50c/kg to €1/kg, depending on weight and fat cover.

Lamb prices

Prices reported for lambs are in the region of €6.20/kg to €6.30/kg for groups and regular sellers, with some lambs capable of achieving 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher by merit of conformation bonuses.

These sellers are, in many cases, now also being paid to 21.5kg carcase weight, although the number of lambs availing of the extra payment for weight is said to be low.

It is clear that agents are also looking for fleshed lambs, given the prices being paid in some mart sales.

Individual sellers with lower negotiating power are typically moving lambs at prices ranging from €6.10/kg to €6.20/kg.

Ewe trade

There is significant variation in the trade for ewes across the market.

Some plants have reduced their quotes for quality assured ewes to €3.20/kg, while others continue to quote €3.35/kg to €3.40/kg for ewes traded through groups.

At the top end of the market, there is still good demand for ewes from buyers supplying the wholesale or niche export markets.

With the trade holding relatively firm in mart sales for large-framed heavy ewes, this is proving to be a more lucrative outlet for ewes capable of delivering a good-quality carcase.