The sheep trade resembles the stalemate result from Paris on Sunday. While the rugby match was definitely a game of two halves, the lamb quotes and prices are solid and steady throughout, with every plant offering the same quotes as they were on this day last week.
This leaves Moyvalley clearly on top with its all-in figure of 535c/kg. Kepak Athleague is next at a 525c/kg base plus the bonus while the base is 5c/kg less in Hacketstown.
Kildare is offering an unchanged 510c/kg plus the two bonuses of 6c/kg and 5c/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis is on 515c/kg plus 6c/kg, while both ICM plants remain on a base quote of 510c/kg plus 6c/kg.
A number of the factory sources drew attention to the large amounts of overweight lambs being offered for slaughter.
One of them said that at least 40pc of the stock were too heavy. I keep reiterating the waste of effort and money it is for farmers to be feeding to those excessive weights and then going to the factory.
With the strong prices throughout the year, there is really no excuse for this practice. The processors have a cut-off point and the bottom line is that you will not get paid beyond this. Sell at the appropriate weights and if the lambs are too heavy, then the mart is the better option.
The fact is that the quotes are nearly a joke at this stage as any farmer worth their salt will be fully aware that all of the plants are willing to pay well in excess of those figures to get supplies with 540c/kg freely available.
IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said that the trade continues to be strong with prices of 535-550c/kg being paid with the mart and wholesale trade also strong.
Kildare Chilling, Kepak Hacketstown and Dawn Ballyhaunis lead the way on 300c/kg for the cull ewes. The ICMs have pulled their ewe quotes by 10c/kg. This leaves them on a par with Kepak Athleague at 290c/kg. Moyvalley is not quoting.
Bord Bia reported that the trade remained steady last week, with supply levels evenly matched to demand on both the domestic and key export markets.
Quotes for hoggets by the end of the week were still generally making €5.15-5.30/kg. Demand for mutton is strong, with quotes for cull ewes generally at €3/kg.
Sheep supplies to date are currently running 5pc above last year's levels. This has led to higher sheepmeat output, with the CSO reporting an increase of almost 13pc during January compared with the corresponding month last year.
In the UK, trade has lifted, reflecting the ongoing tight supply and steady exchange rate. By the weekend, livemarket prices across Great Britain were the equivalent of €5.42/kg for old-season lamb.
In France, there was little change in trade, with limited numbers of Irish grade 1 lamb reportedly making up to €5.57/kg including VAT by the end of the week.