The 2018 lamb trade has commenced on a positive note, with prices improved from pre-Christmas levels at the factories.
It is a welcome trend for sheep farmers and underlines the strength of the trade for sheep meat both on the home market and export outlets.
The factory base quotes this week are generally 480-490 cents/kg plus the usual 5-10 cents/kg bonus payments for quality.
The general view is that returns to sheep farmers this week are north of 500 cents/kg, with processors anxious to get supplies, and willing to pay a good top-up on their quotes.
IFA National Sheep Committee chairman John Lynskey said prices have “kicked on again”, with many farmers getting up to 515 cents/kg and prices ranging from 505 cents/kg.
He said that demand at the factories is very strong, with stocks having been sold out over Christmas, adding that bad weather over the past week left supplies tight at the factories, and put procurement managers under pressure to secure supplies.
He pointed out that supplies were up 10% last year, and the strong throughput during the final months of 2017 will be reflected in reduced supplies for the early months of this year.
The live sales have also resumed this week, with strong demand for large entries.
There were 650 head on offer at Kilkenny Mart on Monday where the trade was described as positive.
Butchers paid up to €63 over for the tops with €120/head being paid for 57kg. Factory lots ranged up to €58 over, with 48kgs sold for €106/head.