The national sheep kill to date is running 1% ahead of 2014 levels, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

According to the figures for the week ending September 27, the total cumulative kill at export sheep meat plants has increased by 13,672 head on 2014 levels, with 1.88m sheep slaughtered in 2015.

However, despite the cumulative increase, the weekly kill has dropped by 3% on the corresponding week last year.

This reduction in slaughterings has occurred due to a smaller number of 2014 born lambs and cast (ewes and rams) slaughterings.

Weekly slaughterings of these lots have dropped by 29% (3,249) and 93% (1,476) respectively.

The figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that the cumulative number of spring lambs slaughtered in Irish plants has increased by 9%, while the weekly kill is up by 5% or 88,557 and 2,780 head of sheep respectively.

Factory trade

Some sheep factories have dropped base quotes for spring lamb by 10c/kg bringing the base price to 450-460c/kg.

The increased numbers of lambs coming forward for slaughter has been cited by many as the primary cause for the reduction in the factory base price.

However, despite this relative drop the prices paid for cast ewes has remained constant with many plants offering 250c/kg for these animals.

Sheep Trade

The sheep trade remains strong this week on the back of a further rise in demand with supplies reported as strong. A mixed trade was reported across the key export markets, according to Bord Bia.

In Britain, it says, an ease in the trade was reported following the stronger trade of the previous two weeks.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €4.73/kg dead weight towards the end of the week.

According to Bord Bia, the trade in France remains relatively steady this week due to the recent Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

However, some decrease in demand is expected next week. Grade 1 Irish lamb was making €4.99/kg (DW incl VAT) towards the end of the week, it says.