Spring lambs reach a top call of €171/head

After a relatively slow start, the spring lamb trade is beginning to gather pace and more numbers are being presented for sale in marts across the country.

Factory and butcher buyers are particularly keen to secure numbers and have been ever present at the ringside over recent days.

Although factory quotes are running at 680-700c/kg for new season lambs, the added competition of butchers is bolstering prices in many locations.

Over recent days, spring lambs have sold from €122 right the way up to €171; prices at the higher end of the scale have generally been as a result of butcher buying.

Raphoe Mart

There was a large entry of sheep on offer at Raphoe Mart’s weekly sheep sale on Monday and an excellent trade was reported for all stock.

Heavy spring lambs (46-50kg) traded at €150-171, lots weighing 40-46kg sold for €120-150 and the lighter lots (37-40kg) realised €110-120.

A number of hoggets also went under the hammer and prices of €140-155 were achieved for those weighing 50-60kg. Meanwhile, the lighter classes (38-43kg) sold for €100-120.

The ewe trade remained similar to previous weeks; ewes with single lambs made €130-222, ewes with twins sold for €180-320 and dry ewes traded for €80-141.

Kilkenny Mart

Some 350 sheep passed through the ring of Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Monday. Commenting on the trade, George Candler said: “[There was] a good sharp trade for all sheep, with lambs peaking at €147/head and hoggets at €145/head.”

Looking at hogget returns first, butcher types sold for €2.40-2.75/kg or €135-145/head and factory-fit lots realised €2.50-2.72/kg or €105-129/head.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 60kg: €144 or €2.40/kg;
  • 58kg: €143 or €2.47/kg;
  • 51kg: €139 or €2.73/kg;
  • 49kg: €129 or €2.63/kg;
  • 47kg: €128 or €2.72/kg;
  • 42kg: €105 or €2.50/kg.

In addition, spring lamb numbers are starting to creep up in the Kilkenny-based venue and a 100% clearance rate was achieved. On the day, buyers were willing to pay €2.80-3.21/kg or €120-147 to secure numbers.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • 52kg: €147 or €2.83/kg;
  • 45kg: €144 or €3.20/kg;
  • 41kg: €130 or €3.17/kg;
  • 38kg: €122 or €3.21/kg.

A number of cull ewes were also on offer and these lots traded at €50-145.

Maam Cross Mart

Sheep numbers were up in Maam Cross Mart’s weekly sheep sale on Saturday last and prices were reportedly up as well.

Blackface and crossbred hoggets sold for an average price of €78, while four Blackface hogget wethers achieved the top price of €110.

A selection of ewe hoggets also passed through the ring and these lots sold for an average price of €66. The top price was achieved by a pen of in-lamb hoggets at €116. Meanwhile, ewes with lambs at foot traded to an average price of €85.

Mountbellew Mart

Like other venues, spring lambs are starting to become more plentiful in Mountbellew Mart; prices of €135-140 were achieved at its weekly sale on Saturday last.

Meanwhile, hoggets met a similar trade to previous weeks and prices ranged from €100 right the way up to €140.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 56.6kg: €135 or €2.39/kg;
  • 50.3kg: €125 or €2.49/kg;
  • 60kg: €136 or €2.27/kg;
  • 58kg: €140 or €2.41/kg;
  • 66kg: €140 or €2.12/kg;
  • 44kg: €100 or €2.27/kg.

A large number of ewes with lambs at foot reportedly met a brisk trade – especially for the quality lots on offer.

Sample ewe prices:
  • Two second-crop ewes with triplet lambs: €230;
  • Two first-crop ewes with twin lambs: €245;
  • One first-crop ewe with a single lamb: €165;
  • Three first-crop ewes with twin lambs: €254;
  • One first-crop ewe with strong twin lambs: €271.

Baltinglass Mart

A 100% clearance rate was achieved at Saturday’s sheep sale in Baltinglass Mart. The sale compromised of mainly forward-quality hoggets. Prices were driven by factory buyers and an increase of €1-2/head was achieved on the previous week’s sale.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 31kg: €72 or €2.32/kg;
  • 35kg: €78 or €2.23/kg;
  • 40kg: €103 or €2.58/kg;
  • 45kg: €129 or €2.87/kg;
  • 60kg: €139 or €2.32/kg;
  • 50kg: €130 or €2.60/kg.