The sheep trade is starting the week off on a steady note as of now, although rumblings of possible price cuts later in the week have been rumoured – ‘with a lot of sheep about currently’ the word coming from one factory.

After a resurgence in prices over the past fortnight, factories were a lot quieter coming into the start of this week, with one factory in particular, who is usually always the first in with a quote, not going on record with a quote for hoggets on Monday or today (Tuesday, February 8).

Despite factories being coy on prices, from looking at the trade at marts on Monday and from talking to mart managers, factory agents were very keen for finished supplies and were not in the mood to let any slip through their fingers – as supplies remain tight across marts.

Despite these rumblings of pulls in prices possibly coming about, €6.80-7.00/kg, going by reports, was still on the table at the top end of the market on Monday.

Base prices on offer from the factories that offered a quote ranged from €6.50/kg up to €6.70/kg.

Price deductions are also still in play for hoggets killing out over 25kg. Kildare Chilling is offering €150/head for lambs killing out at a carcass weight of 25kg, while other plants are inflicting 30c/kg cuts on these hoggets.

The ewe trade remains unchanged, with prices ranging from €3.20/kg up to €3.50/kg.

Sheep trade update from Sean McNamara

Giving an update on the sheep trade at present, the sheep chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Sean McNamara said that€6.80-7.00/kg is still on the table for hoggets but that it looks as if farmers will have to fight it out to keep it that way.

He added: “It appears as if factories are looking to downplay the trade once again and apply pressure on prices; it’s unacceptable and I would urge farmers to hold out for €7.00/kg.

“Furthermore, continual price cuts being applied to hoggets killing out over 25kg is also unacceptable and if farmers have hoggets that are at risk of being caught with these penalties to go to the mart with these heavy sheep.

“At present, farmers will get more at the mart for them – so that’s the place for them.”