It appears that neither the Eurovision nor official factory quotes should be taken seriously. At the risk of doing an Alan Shatter on it, I received inside information over the phone (but not while driving) that prices of up to 30-40c/kg over the quoted figures are being paid.
With supplies of lamb so tight and hoggets almost finished, factories are quite willing to pay much more than they quote.
Having said that, both Kepaks were only quoting for yesterday at a base of 590c/kg plus the bonus for lambs. Athleague were also offering 520c/kg plus 6c/kg for hoggets and 190c/kg for cull ewes. Normally this is not a great sign for the week ahead but the feeling is the trade should remain pretty steady. Hacketstown were not quoting for ewes or hoggets.
Elsewhere, the ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis are also quoting a base of 590c/kg plus the 6c/kg bonus, while Kildare are offering the two 5c/kg bonuses on top of the 590c/kg base. Moyvalley remain on the all-in quote of 600c/kg.
Farmers need to bargain on weight as well as price, as I have heard of some plants paying to 21kg while others are sticking to 20.5kg. One seller secured 630c/kg to 20.5kg resulting in a price of €129.15. Another got 620c/kg to 21kg which yielded a little more than a euro extra or €130.20. The best option depends on the sort of lamb you have.
Kepak Hacketstown and Moyvalley are not quoting for hoggets. The rest are unchanged from last week at 520c/kg plus bonus.
Kildare lead the way on 200c/kg for cull ewes. Both ICM factories, Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague, continue to offer 190c/kg. Moyvalley and Hacketstown are not offering a quote for ewes. However, I know that prices of up to and more than 220c/kg are being paid.
Bord Bia said higher costs and poor weather conditions are holding back new season supplies. To date this year, sheep supplies are 163,300 head higher.
Most of the marts reported an improved trade for lambs and cull ewes over the past week. Lamb prices were up by anything from €1-5/hd with strong butcher demand for well-fleshed lambs more than 45kg and especially for the 50kg+ types.
If you have heavy lambs fit for slaughter then the mart is your best option as, while a max of €130 appears to be the factories' limit, Fermoy Mart saw many of those types make more than €140/hd yesterday. It was probably the best of the sales with the butcher lamb hitting a top price of €156 paid for 50kg. Many pens sold for €80-95 over their weight. The top price over the weight was €107 when a pen weighing 39kg sold for €146.
In Athenry, ewes with lambs at foot moved at €140-160, cull ewes sold for €60-104. Hogget prices ran from €95-106. Most of the fit lambs made €110-130 while store lambs made €60-95 each.
Prices in Kilkenny were slightly back. Finished lambs were making €70-85 with their weight with a lot reaching €110-130/hd. Hoggets sold at €100-130. Cull ewes ranged from €50-116.
Carnew had a big sale with 1,300 sheep on offer. Spring lambs were up by €5/hd while cull ewes were improved by up to €10/hd. Butcher and factory hoggets sold for €105-125. Spring lambs made from €108-135 or €70-85 over the weight.
At Mountbellew Mart, cull ewes met with a strong trade with prices up €10-15. Ewes with lambs at foot were steady. Demand for fleshy hoggets saw prices for lots more than 50kg run from €115-124 while lighter lots sold from €90-110.
The sheep trade was slightly improved at Dowra Mart on Saturday with the best of the ewes with lambs at foot making €150-180. Older ewes with twin lambs at foot were selling from €80-130. Ewes with singles made €70-100 each.
Finished lambs more than 40kg were selling for €100-116 in Ballina. Ewes with twins at foot made €140. Spring lambs made €2.20-2.79/kg in Tuam. Ewes with lambs at foot sold to €140 while cull ewes hit a tops of €105.