“A super trade all round and long may it continue.” These were the words of Sean McNamara the sheep chairman of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) when asked for his opinion of the sheep trade at present.

It’s been another strong week for sheep prices both at factory and mart level, with prices strengthening further from the week before.

Even since the start of this week, factories have moved to increase prices as competition increases among meat processing plants for supplies, which are continuing to tighten.

Agriland spoke to Sean McNamara to get his views on the trade at present.

Speaking about factory prices he said: “It’s very positive overall. Factory prices have pushed on once again this week, with spring lambs now hitting €8.20/kg.

“Supplies are fierce tight and we are seeing hogget prices get a big lift to, with many now moving at prices of €7.50/kg up to €7.70/kg and as high as €7.80/kg up to 23.5kg.

“The cull ewe trade is much the same with many moving at €3.30-3.40/kg.”

Mart trade

Speaking about the mart trade, Sean said that some of the prices being achieved at sales are “unbelievable” and that he hasn’t seen anything like it before.

He added: “Some of the prices I’m seeing at marts and what other farmers are telling me… they are getting unbelievable.

“Look at the cull ewes there at marts, for example, some are coming in over €200 for those heavy well-fleshed ewes.

“Even those poorer-quality ewes, for want of a better word, are making serious money.

“Similarly, the ewes with lambs at foot is a crazy trade at present. I was speaking to a farmer who was at Ballyjamesduff Mart this week and he saw a real old ewe with three lambs making €340.

“Even the horned ewes with single lambs are making up on €160-170/unit. I remember two or three years ago you would pick up the same ewes and lambs at €50-60/unit.

“It’s great to see and long may it continue. Every farmer deserves their turn and long may it last.

“The hoggets are also going extremely well and I heard of some making close to €190 there this past week.

“The spring lambs weren’t quite as hot a trade at marts this week as last week in the lead up to Easter, but still are a very very good trade.

“The tops of the spring lambs are still coming into €170-190, so if you’re getting no joy from the factories, go to the mart,” Sean concluded.