Reports from mart managers point to significantly higher entries of lambs in some sales with the trade steady to stronger in places.

The increase in demand is stemming from the Islamic religious festival of Eid al-Adha, with improved prices seen where live exporters are active and competing with factory agents.

The other noticeable feature noted by mart managers and evident in price analysis is the differentiation in price between lambs of a similar weight but varying level of flesh cover and potential slaughter performance. Differences of upwards of €10 to €15 have been reported, with light lambs more exposed.

For example, prices for lambs weighing 44kg to 45kg range in the main from €175 to €185, but select lots have topped €190 and likewise fell below the €170 per head mark.

Likewise, the general price trend for lambs weighing 48kg to 50kg has been in the region of €195 to €205, but select lots of excellent-quality ram lambs or lambs attracting butcher-buyer attention have risen to upwards of €215 to €220. Mart managers continue to encourage producers to split slaughter-fit ram and ewe lambs.

Lighter lambs

There is a relatively good demand for entries of lighter lambs weighing around the 35kg mark.

Lambs lacking flesh have sold in the region of €3.40/kg to €3.60/kg with the lowest prices for plainer-quality or crossbred lambs back to €3/kg while top-quality continental lambs with a good cover of flesh have hit €3.80/kg to €3.95/kg.

The ewe trade is similar, with more competition evident for heavy fleshed ewes than lighter types with an average cover of flesh. Prices for heavy fleshed ewes continue to operate around the €2/kg to €2.20/kg mark. Medium-weight ewes with a good cover of flesh are a similar trade, with lots with a lower cover of flesh back to €1.70/kg to €1.90/kg. Heavier hill ewes with a good flesh cover are trading from €1.50/kg to €1.70/kg, with average-quality lots back to €1.30/kg and boner-types back to 80c/kg to €1/kg. Ewe entries in marts continue to be boosted by live export demand attracting higher numbers to the ring.