The sheep trade is unfortunately starting the week in a similar manner to recent weeks, with another significant price cut.

Base quotes have been pulled by a further 20c/kg, leaving base prices in the region of €7.30/kg plus plants' respective quality assurance (QA) bonuses.

This leaves opening prices for QA lambs in the region of €7.40/kg to €7.50/kg, with top prices for Tuesday rising to €7.60/kg and higher in cases where conformation bonuses and allowances on transport costs are factored in.

Monday's prices

Top prices on Monday hit €7.70/kg to €7.80/kg, but this has become much harder to secure.

Reports indicate throughput remains relatively low for the time of year, but factories are also exhibiting a lower appetite for sheep.

The mart trade has also eased significantly, with agents watching the dead trade closely and sticking tight to equivalent prices and delivering a margin.

Top-quality heavier lambs weighing from 50kg upwards sold in the region of €158 to €165, with selected lots attracting butcher attention rising to €170 and over occasionally.

Lambs weighing 47kg to 48kg range anywhere from €148 to €160, with quality having a big bearing on price.

Likewise, lambs weighing 45kg to 46kg are averaging in the region of €140 to €150, with choice lots selling for a few euro higher.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is largely unchanged, with quotes in the region of €3.90/kg to €4.00/kg, while some plants are trying to talk prices back 10c/kg.

At the top end of the market, choice ewes are trading in abattoirs specialising in the ewe trade from €4.20/kg to €4.40/kg. The mart trade remains a good outlet for heavy types.

Northern trade

The trade in Northern Ireland is quieter this week ahead of 12 July celebrations.

Factories have pulled base quotes well below the £6/kg mark, with base quotes in the region of £5.70/kg to £5.80/kg and top prices hitting 10p/kg higher.

The number of sheep processed this week is likely to be low, with fewer numbers also exported live due to the majority of marts holding no sales.