Surprise lift in sheep prices
Fierce competition between wholesalers, exporters and factory buyers has resulted in an unexpected surge in sheep prices.
Prices for cull ewes and store lambs were at an unprecedented high last week. Tight supplies have created extra demand for the sheep on offer, which is driving prices even though returns are usually slipping at this time of the year.
Prices at some marts are running €15-20/hd ahead of last year, even using conservative figures.
Carnew mart manger David Quinn said store lambs generally made €30-45 over the weight, with up to €45 and even €50 over being paid for nice ewe lambs.
"Last year, €30 over the weight would have been the talk of the country," said Mr Quinn. "It's tremendous to see the hardcore mid-season lamb producers get a bite of the cherry."
Heavy cull ewes sold for €90-125/hd at Carnew, while very light ewes sold for more than €50/hd.
"For a ewe to make under €50/hd, she would have to be a bag of bones on three legs," said Mr Quinn.
"There was a very active demand, and competition between live exporters and the factories," he added.