The sheep trade is starting the week in a brisk manner, with signs of more life in the live trade and agents working hard to secure numbers.

Quotes for lambs are all opening in the region of €9.50/kg for quality assured (QA) lambs, with base quotes excluding QA payments ranging from €9.30/kg to €9.40/kg.

The only significant change in quotes over the weekend has been the two Irish Country Meats (ICM) plants in Camolin and Navan raising their paid carcase weight limit by 0.5kg to 21.5kg.

Regular sellers with greater negotiating power or those selling through producer groups are securing 10c/kg to 15c/kg above opening quotes, with top prices north of €9.70/kg.

Hogget quotes

Quotes for hoggets are unchanged, leaving a significant differential between prices paid to producers handling small numbers and possessing low bargaining power and those handling big numbers.

Base quotes are in the region of just €9/kg or €9.15/kg to €9.20/kg for QA hoggets, but prices ranging anywhere from €9.30/kg to a top of €9.50/kg to €9.60/kg have been reported for large consignments.

The ewe trade continues to benefit from keen competition from agents purchasing ewes for live export or processing in smaller plants or abattoirs. Quotes are typically starting in the region of €4.20/kg, with top-quality ewes trading from €4.30/kg to €4.50/kg.

Live trade

Reports from marts held on Monday and over the weekend have been positive, with many sales recording an increase in price of €1 to €3/head and much greater in cases.

Dowra trade

Dowra Mart in Cavan recorded a standout trade for lambs in its sale on Saturday.

A top price of €250 was paid for a pen of 20 lambs weighing 50kg, while three other batches of lambs weighing from 48kg to 52.5kg topped the €240/head mark.

Top-quality lambs weighing from 44kg to 46kg sold from €207 to €219/head, with demand outstripping supply.

The trade for hoggets was also much sharper, with the general run of quality fleshed hoggets weighing from 48kg to 52kg selling from €200 to €218, while a handful of heavy lots of hoggets weighing from 56kg to 62kg sold from €220 to a top of €241 for speckled-faced crossbred ewe hoggets.

Kilkenny Mart

Kilkenny Mart auctioneer George Candler described the trade as magical for a limited number of approximately 400 sheep.

Competition was boosted by the presence of buyers anxious to secure ram lambs for live export.

Sample prices reported for lambs weighing from 47kg to 49kg upwards range from €224 to €233, with lighter lots weighing 43kg to 45kg selling from €205 to €210.

Heavy hoggets weighing from 58kg to 66kg sold from €220 to €228, with lighter fleshed lots selling from €195 to €215, while top-quality cull ewes topped the €200 mark, selling to €240 to €260/head.