Covid-19 fails to dampen the trade, as sheep sales get off to a flyer

Although many marts have decided to postpone their opening sales of the new year this past week due to rising Covid-19 cases, the few that have gone ahead have seen the trade improve on pre-Christmas levels.

Despite ringsides across the country vacant at sales, as Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions means marts can only operate an online or tender system of trading, the mart trade for sheep has not been affected in the slightest.

Kevin Murphy of Enniscorthy Mart said that the fact that we are back online-only hasn’t affected things, as all buyers are used to online bidding as we make our way through a third lockdown.

Speaking to a couple of mart managers throughout the week, many were saying lamb prices were stronger by €5-7/head – especially in the case of heavy, well-fleshed lambs – with David Quinn of Carnew saying that trade was €10/head stronger in cases.

Also Read: 51-55kg lambs sell for €132-139/head at Carnew Mart

Similar to what was seen prior to Christmas, the trade for heavy butcher lambs has picked up where it let off and in many cases has improved.

Top prices of up to €140/head and north of this have been reported at various sales throughout the week for heavy, well-fleshed lambs. 

Prices of between €130/head and €138/head for fleshed lambs over the past week have been regularly achieved across sales for 49kg plus lambs.

Also Read: Strong start to 2021 for fat and store lambs at Blessington Mart

47-48kg fleshed lambs have been making some excellent prices, with some selling to highs of €136-140/head this past week.

Both butchers and factory agents have been very active online this past week, while some mart managers have said that there is still quite a strong demand for store lambs – with plenty of buyers for these lots. 

Strong factory prices are driving the mart trade currently, with top prices of €6.00-6.10/kg being secured, with isolated deals of up to €6.20/kg being achieved for large groups of lambs.

Eric Driver of Tullow Mart reported a very lively trade at last Tuesday’s sale, with a very brisk demand for forward fleshed sheep.

Lambs weighing over 46kg sold from €136/head up to €142/head, with some exceptional lots breaking past that mark and making €144-146/head, while 42-43kg lambs sold from €120/head upwards. Eric noted that clean, well-presented stores were very much in demand.

All in all, despite the worrying Covid-19 situation, the sheep trade has once again shone brightly and started on a really strong note in 2021. Hopefully, other marts will be able to get up and running next week.