Reports indicate that a high percentage of quality assured (QA) lambs are trading this week at a price range of €5.90/kg to €6.10/kg.

Base quotes range from €5.75/kg to €5.90/kg, leaving the majority of producers with QA lambs to trade moving from €5.90/kg to €6.00/kg.

Sellers with small numbers or selling individually are facing significant challenges in securing higher.

The higher prices of €6.05/kg to €6.10/kg are generally confined to producer groups and regular sellers trading at the higher end of the market.

There are small numbers of lambs trading for 5c/kg to 10c/kg above this range by merit of conformation bonuses or where contributions towards transport costs are factored in.

The majority of plants are holding to 21.5kg carcase weight limits with some wholesale buyers paying to 22kg.

Lamb supplies have come on stream strongly in recent weeks and this is confirmed by the Department of Agriculture-reported sheep throughput for last week. The kill was unchanged at 64,197 head. This included 55,444 hoggets and 8,681 ewes and rams.

This week’s reports from producer groups and mart sales point to the rate at which lambs are coming on to the market possibly reducing on recent weeks.

Mart managers have recorded lower entries of slaughter-fit lambs, while many producer groups comment that some farmers who were moving lambs steadily at lighter weights have delayed drafting to let lambs run into heavier weights in a bid to compensate for the lower prices.

IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said: “Lamb markets remain relatively solid and farmers should avoid panic selling or sending under-finished lambs to the factory.

“Farmers should continue to draft slaughter-fit lambs in an orderly manner and where there is pressure to move lambs which are not fit for slaughter, these should be presented in the mart where there is a firm trade for store lambs.”

Prices in Northern Ireland plants are 5p/kg easier on average to last week, with base quotes ranging from £4.75/kg to £4.80/kg or €5.53/kg to €5.60/kg. Reports also indicate that producers are finding it harder to negotiate above the base prices quoted, with top prices ranging from £4.85/kg to £4.90/kg (€5.65/kg to €5.71/kg).

The ewe trade also remains under pressure, with quotes in the main at €3/kg, but falling lower in cases.

There is significant variation between plants, with prices ranging from €2.90/kg to €3.20/kg and producers should weigh up the type of ewe on hand and decide if the mart may be a better outlet.