This week’s sheep throughput in factories is expected to be at its highest level since June 2023, with kill figures expected to be upwards of 60,000 head.

The sharp jump in processing activity is being underpinned by demand for the Islamic religious festival of Eid al-Adha, which takes place next week from 16 to 20 June.

The spike in throughput is a big change for factories that have been contending with a 20% to 25% lower kill for the last two months.

Many factories are working additional shifts to handle the higher numbers, while one plant in the west is reported as operating on Saturday and possibly Sunday.

Prices are broadly in line with last week’s level, with opening prices for quality-assured lambs in the region of €9/kg and top prices north of €9.10/kg to €9.20/kg.

Buyers purchasing ram lambs for live export in the first half of the week inserted significant competition to the trade in many marts, with top prices ranging from €4.10/kg to €4.40/kg live and exceeding equivalent deadweight prices.

Starting prices for QA hoggets are in the region of €8/kg to €8.20/kg, with specialist finishers securing much higher returns.

Buyers purchasing lambs for live export have also been very active in marts in Northern Ireland with a number of operators active. This has lifted mart prices for top-quality lambs well above equivalent factory prices.

Plants are trying to open quotes in the region of £7/kg to £7.10/kg (€8.68/kg) but prices ranging from £7.30/kg to £7.50/kg (€8.81/kg) are reported as being paid to deal with the live trade.