Downward pressure on factory prices at the end of last week briefly dented purchasing activity in marts, with prices easing by €3 to €5 more in cases.

However, there is a brighter tone to the trade as the week has progressed, with factory agents more anxious for lambs.

There is quite a bit of variation in prices paid, which is not surprising given the higher than normal value of each kilo of carcase weight.

This is creating a differential in price for similar-weight lambs of as high as €15 per head.

Adequately fleshed factory-weight lambs weighing 43kg to 47kg are typically selling from €98 to €106 on average over the euro-per-kg price or from €141 to €153 per head.

The trade for store lambs is also very dependent on quality

Heavier and top-quality lambs are in cases selling to €108 to €110 over the euro-per-kg, leaving top prices for butcher-type lambs rising to €155 to €162 and higher on occasion.

At the other end of the quality spectrum, lambs weighing 40kg to 42kg are selling from €125 to €130 where they are lacking significant flesh cover to €139 to €144 for better-quality types.

The trade for store lambs is also very dependent on quality. Lowland lambs weighing 33kg to 35kg are trading from €98 to €110 on average, with forward lambs weighing 37kg to 39kg selling from €106 to €125 on average.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is solid and stronger in cases. This is being underpinned by a significant reduction in the number of quality ewes on offer and higher numbers of freshly weaned ewes lacking flesh appearing.

As such, there is more competition for large-farmed heavy ewes, with lots weighing 90kg to 100kg upwards remaining at a price range of €130 to €170 on average.

Medium-weight fleshed ewes weighing 85kg are trading from €100 for lots lacking flesh to €130 to €135 for the better-quality types.

There is interest building for ewes suitable for breeding in early lambing systems. This trade looks bright, with the strong cull ewe trade setting a high price bar.

Ewes lacking significant flesh and weighing 70kg to 75kg are trading from €80 to €95, while small numbers of Scottish Blackface ewes weighing 50kg to 55kg range from €1/kg to €10 to €15 over on average.