They say that all good things come to an end. I suppose there are quite a few examples to prove this. Just ask Bertie, the developers, the banks or Brian Cody in September (wishful thinking).
If we go by the quotes for lambs today, the good days of the past two months appear to be at an end as quotes are at what they were two weeks ago.
The big increase of 10-30c/kg that was evident last Tuesday has been cancelled by a drop in quotes of a similar amount for today. However, farmers who are willing to bargain hard are being rewarded for their efforts, with 480c/kg being regularly paid around the country.
Dawn Ballyhaunis is the only plant not quoting as it is not killing until next Thursday.
Apart from ICM Camolin, whose quote of 450c/kg plus 6c/kg was for yesterday only, all the rest are on a base quote of 450c/kg, with the bonus for the U grades on top of that.
Moyvalley's 450c/kg is an all-in quote and reflects a fall of 30c/kg since this day last week. Both Kepak plants are back by 20c/kg, while it is a 10c/kg drop in Kildare Chilling.
There is absolutely no market justification for the concerted effort by the factories to pull prices, according to IFA sheep committee chairman James Murphy, who claimed that, despite the lower quotes, very tight supplies were forcing factories to pay up to 480c/kg to secure adequate numbers.
Is it OK to say that the cull ewe trade is nearly too good? With some of the prices being paid, farmers are extremely tempted to sell more than they should, and the breeding flock could suffer as a result later in the year. Quotes are up in some plants and all, apart from Moyvalley, are on 240c/kg. Moyvalley is at 200c/kg, while Dawn Ballyhaunis is not quoting.
Bord Bia reported that the trade for lamb eased in response to stronger supplies on export markets as weather conditions showed some improvement across northern Europe. Quotes for lambs at export meat plants were in the 450-455c/kg range.
In the UK, trade at the live markets continues to benefit from tight supplies.
Meanwhile, at the second mart of the year at Mountbellew on Saturday the brisk demand continued for the cull ewes, particularly heavier lots.
This week's mart had a large number of sheep on offer, with five-and-a-half rows of hoggets and two rows of cull ewes.
Hoggets made from €85-112/hd, cull ewe prices ranged from €60-126/hd and in-lamb ewes made up to €121/hd.
Dowra Mart had 600 sheep on offer on the same day and a strong trade was reported for all classes.
Lighter store lambs made €60-80/hd and the heavier lots made €80-110/hd. In-lamb ewes sold for €100-145/hd, cull ewes made from €70-110/hd and feeding ewes achieved €45-75/hd.
Some of the worst road conditions experienced during the cold snap impacted on numbers at Headford Mart on Thursday as stock levels were drastically reduced.
Lambs made €80-118/hd, cull ewes sold for €35-114/hd and ewe lambs achieved €95-120/hd.