Quality: The main driver of price in sheep marts

This week, most factories have increased quotes by 5c/kg.

However, inclement weather, along with higher numbers of sheep being presented for sale, has taken its toll on sheep prices across the country.

It is reported that quality animals are few and far between. However, where well-fleshed lambs are presented for sale – they are achieving the highest price.

Although prices may have come under pressure, good clearances have been reported by mart managers.

Carnew Mart

Some 1,659 sheep went under the hammer on Thursday (October 19) at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow. David Quinn, the mart manager, noted that a “good” number of sheep were entered into the sale.

Joe O’Brien the mart’s spokesperson said: “All lamb prices were up. Butcher and factory lambs prices increased by €2-3/head, while stores were up €3-5/head.”

Lambs weighing over 35kg made €75-87/head, lighter lambs (under 35kg) sold for €68-82/head and ewe lambs traded at €82-116/head. Lots of cull ewes traded between €45 and €108.

O’Brien also touched on the prices achieved for the breeding sheep. Good quality hoggets, he said, traded at €115-160/head and prices of €85-122/head were achieved for older breeding ewes.

In addition, breeding rams made €100-380/head on the day.

Kilkenny Mart

Monday’s (October 23) sale in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, featured 650 sheep. According to the mart’s auctioneer, George Candler, trade proved difficult for all types.

On the day, he said, quality lambs fetched a top price of €109/head. Cull ewe prices peaked at €105/head.

Butcher lamb prices:
  • 25 lambs: 56kg – €109/head or €1.95/kg;
  • 11 lambs: 54kg – €104/head or €1.93/kg;
  • 24 lambs: 53kg – €107/head or €2.02/kg;
  • 25 lambs: 52kg – €104/head or €2.00/kg.

Store lambs reached prices between €70 and €87/head. Cast ewes remained similar to last week’s sale and made €50-105/head.

Factory lamb prices:
  • 12 lambs: 47kg – €94/head or €2.00/kg;
  • 10 lambs: 46kg – €88/head or €1.91/kg;
  • 10 lambs: 44kg – €85/head or €1.93/kg;
  • 12 lambs: 43kg – €86/head or €2.00/kg.

Mountbellew Mart

Last Saturday (October 21) saw a smaller number of sheep go under the hammer at the Galway-based venue.

Lambs met a slightly “easier” trade on the previous week, with a brisk trade reported for breeding ewes and quality lots of hoggets. Eight quality ewe lambs weighing 34kg sold for €70/head on the day.

The Co. Galway venue also saw an increased number of buyers for store lambs. These lots ranged in price from €72 to €94/head.

Sample wether lamb prices:
  • 11 lambs: 53.3kg – €100/head;
  • 10 lambs: 46.3kg – €92/head;
  • 10 lambs: 50.4kg – €111/head;
  • 7 lambs: 38.1kg – €95/head.

Cast ewes met an increased trade compared to the previous week. A strong trade remained for heavier ewes with prices ranging from €88 to €148/head.

Breeding ewes and ewe hoggets met a brisk trade last Saturday. Hogget ewes achieved prices of up to €169/head.

Sample ewe prices:
  • Hogget ewes – €133-169/head;
  • First-crop ewes – €121-148/head;
  • Second-crop ewes – €108-133/head;
  • Third-crop ewes – €88-110/head.

Raphoe Mart

Saturday (October 21) saw a large number of sheep go under the hammer at Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal. An excellent trade was reported by the mart’s manager, Anne Harkin.

“There were plenty of bidders present on the day – both farmers and agents,” she explained.

Sample lamb prices:
  • 28-32kg: €60-70/head;
  • 32-35kg: €70-75/head;
  • 35-40kg: €74-80/head;
  • 38-44kg: €80-88/head;
  • 44-47kg: €88-95/head;
  • 48-53kg: €95-105/head.

On the day, a number of hogget ewes went under the hammer. These lots sold for €100-146 each. In addition, dry ewes for sale traded for €40-114/head.