Sheep marts: Lamb prices improve slightly due to butcher demand

The spring lamb trade has improved slightly in sheep marts across the country, mainly driven by an increase in the demand from butcher buyers.

Factory quotes have also shown some signs of stabilising this week, with the majority of processors maintaining spring lamb and hogget quotes at last week’s levels.

Farmers sending lambs to slaughter can expect to be quoted 550c/kg, while hoggets are currently sitting at a base price of 500c/kg.

The slight improvement in the spring lamb mart trade follows three weeks of price uncertainty.

This uncertainty was caused by falling factory prices, with many farmers seeing the value of their lambs fall by €10-15/head over the past three weeks.

However, despite the challenging spring lamb trade over the past three weeks, a number of mart managers have reported an improved trade over the last couple of days.

 Tullow Mart

The spring lamb price increased by €8-10/head in Tullow Mart on Tuesday, according to the Mart Manager Eric Driver, due to butcher demand driving the trade.

The Mart Manager said that spring lambs over 40kg sold from €112-135 each, while lots weighing 42-44kg made €118-125.

Hoggets sold up to a top price of €128, with cast ewes suitable for feeding trading from €55, with the majority of the heavier ewes making €90-115 each.

Driver also said there was a bigger number of ewes with lambs at foot on offer. Aged ewes with single lambs made €135, while young ewes sold up to a top price of €225.

Raphoe Mart

There was a large entry of sheep on offer in Raphoe Mart on Monday, according to the Mart Manager Anne Harkin, with good demand for the spring lambs on offer.

Spring lamb prices improved slightly on last week’s sale, with these lots generally selling for €2.68/kg, while hoggets traded from €2.08-2.24/kg.

There was also a good trade for the ewes and lambs on offer, ewes with single lambs sold to a top price of €192 and ewes with twins made up to €260. Fat ewes traded from €70-130 each.

Mountbellew Mart

There was a similar number of sheep on offer in Mountbellew Mart on Saturday, according to the Mart Manager Marianne Higgins.

Higgins said that quality ewe hoggets met with a strong demand and there was also some improvement in the trade for spring lambs, especially for the fleshed lambs.

Spring lambs traded from €2.47-2.89/kg and hoggets sold from €2.25-2.53/kg.

Sample spring lamb prices:
  • 42.5kg – €105 or €2.47
  • 37.5kg – €96 or €2.56/kg
  • 45.5kg – €116 or €2.55/kg
  • 40kg – €100 or €2.50/kg
  • 41.5kg –  €120 or €2.89/kg

However, the demand for cast ewes and ewes with lambs was slightly easier. Cast ewe prices ranged from €70-110, while ewes with lambs at foot traded from €170-242.