Reports from mart sales held since the start of the week point to lambs being easier to the tune of €2 to €4/head on average and in cases by €4 to €5/head.

However, many mart managers have commented that a significant part of this reduction is due to quality also being easier, with numbers of top-quality lambs in tight supply and holding their own.

Prices for top-quality wether and ewe lambs weighing from 50kg to 54kg range in general from €160 to €166.

A selection of excellent-quality lots attracting butcher and wholesale attention have, on occasion, hit prices of €168 to €170. This is in contrast to plainer-quality lambs, with ram lambs selling on average from €155 to €162.

Fleshed lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg continue to record a wide price differential, ranging from €149 to €159 and directly influenced by quality.

It is a similar story for lighter-weight fleshed lambs, with lots weighing 44kg to 46kg trading from €136 to €145.

The store lamb trade is holding firm and this is also helping to keep a good floor under the trade in marts.

Top-quality lowland store lambs ranging in weight from 40kg to 44kg are selling from €135 to €142 to €144, with plainer-quality lots lacking flesh back to €130 and under.

There is a similar price differential for medium-weight lambs, with lambs weighing 37kg to 39kg selling from €117 to €127, while lighter stores continue to exceed a price of €3/kg and recording top prices of €3.25/kg to €3.40/kg.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is firm, with numbers appearing in sales continuing to diminish.

This is particularly true of large-framed heavy ewes, with a significant percentage of sales comprising medium-weight ewes and ewes lacking flesh.

Ewes weighing 85kg to 95kg are trading from €140 to €165 on average, with top prices rising €5 to €10 higher.

Ewes weighing 75kg to 80kg are trading from €120 to €140 on average, while similar-weight ewes with a poor cover of flesh are selling back to €100/head. Lighter ewes in poor condition are trading on average from €65 to €85, while Scottish Blackface ewes continue to trade in the region of €1/kg to €1.20/kg for light ewes and up to €1.30/kg to €1.35/kg for heavier fleshed types.