Dwindling supplies of hoggets and continued slow drafting of spring lambs is helping to keep a solid floor under the lamb trade.

Base quotes remain unchanged at €9.30/kg or an opening price of €9.40/kg to €9.50/kg for quality assured (QA) lambs.

Producers trading through groups or those handling significant numbers and possessing extra negotiating power are securing 10c/kg to 20c/kg above these prices, with top quotes rising to €9.60/kg and higher in isolated cases.

Hogget quotes are also unchanged at in the region of €9/kg base or an opening offer of €9.10/kg to €9.20/kg for QA lots.

There is a significant differential between prices paid to individual sellers with lower negotiating power and those paid to regular sellers or specialist finishers.

While factories are trying to confine prices in line with quotes, up to €9.40/kg to €9.50/kg has been paid to sellers with strong selling power, with deals also completed to 24kg carcase weight.

Mart trade

Reports from marts held on Monday are positive. Reporting from Ennis Mart, Clare Marts manager Martin McNamara said the trade held very strong across all categories.

Heavier fleshed spring lambs were a vibrant trade, with top prices for the best-quality lambs weighing from 45kg to 48kg ranging from €205 to €210, while a selection of heavy lambs weighing in excess of 50kg topped at €220 to €225/head.

There was a wider differential between prices paid for top and poorer-quality lambs, with some lots reported as being short on flesh. The quality of hoggets on offer was also mixed.

Lighter fleshed hoggets weighing 44kg to 46kg sold for in the region of €170 to €180, rising to the mid-€180s for lots weighing 47kg and upwards of €200 for the best-quality heavy types.

Kilkenny Mart auctioneer George Candler painted a similar picture from its sale on Monday.

The top-priced pen of lambs weighing 50kg hit €220/head, with other quality lots weighing 46kg to 47kg ranging from €205 to €210.

The variation in prices paid for lambs of varying finish was evident in a pen of super-quality lambs weighing 44kg hitting €203/head and 42kg making €192, while poorer-quality lambs weighing 43kg sold back to €175/head.

Fleshed hoggets weighing 45kg to 48kg sold on average from €180 to the mid-€190s, while heavier hoggets weighing 50kg to upwards of 60kg sold to a top of €223/head.