Prices are on the rise, with factories yesterday digging deeper into their cheque books to guarantee supplies ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
When it comes to lamb, Dawn Ballyhaunis are the biggest movers, up 20c/kg to €5.50+10c/kg quality assurance.
Like the late Jack Charlton's soccer philosophy of launch it high and long into the opposition box and see what happens, Dawn seem intent on shaking up the opposition.
Kildare Chilling were quickly out of the blocks yesterday morning, pushing their quote for lambs onto €5.50+10c/kg QA, a rise of 10c/kg.
Kepak Athleague also added 10c/kg, bringing their quote to €5.45+15c/kg QA, while the two ICM plants rose 5c/kg to €5.40/kg+10c/kg QA.
Quotes for cull ewes also moved positively yesterday, with Kepak adding 15c/kg bringing them to €2.65/kg. Kildare went up 10c/kg to €2.70+10c/kg QA, while the ICMs and Dawn also added 10c/kg, reaching €2.60/kg.
There was no movement on hoggets, however, with the ICMs and Kildare continuing to offer €4.40+10c/kg QA.
It's all a far cry from where we were at this time last year, when official quotes for lambs stood at €4.80+10c/kg QA from the ICM group, while none of the other players on our price table were willing to offer a quote.
The only positive 12 months ago was that cull ewes were on a strong €2.70/kg.
IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said: "Lamb prices are rising, driven by very strong demand for the Muslin festival of Eid at the end of July. Factories are paying from €5.65/kg up to tops of €5.80/kg."
He claimed that some plants "are trying to pin down numbers and supplies over the coming weeks".
On the mart front the two big stories are improving prices and very big sales, particularly in the northwest. Dowra on Saturday and Raphoe yesterday reported huge numbers, with over 2,500 on offer at each venue.
Patsy Smith of Dowra said: "The trade is being driven by factory prices and by the demand from the wholesalers. Those prices are what are enabling farmers to give the money they're giving for stores."
Going back to Big Jack, ICSA sheep chairman Sean McNamara told me he had actually met the great man.
"I played cards with him on a flight to New York in 1992," he said. "He had no airs and graces about him, and was a good card player."
And the delivery guy from my local chipper regaled me with stories of when he and Big Jack fished together in Ballina.
So what would Big Jack think of the sheep trade, if he had a mind to?
"Nothing is given to you. You've got to work for it."
A “tidy” sale of 500 sheep and sharper trade here yesterday, with butcher-type lambs selling for €122-131/hd.
Prices were €102-112/hd on the factory side and €80-102/hd on the store side, while cull ewes sold for €70-131/hd.
George Candler noted that improved factory prices now see lambs averaging €8-12/hd more than this time last year, extra money that is working its way back through the system.
Numbers here yesterday were a little slacker at 900, but trade moved well with prices decent, especially for heavy butcher-type lambs.
On the factory side 45-46kg lambs sold from €108-110/hd, while among the butcher types 49kgs made €119-125/hd, with 51kgs seeing €126/hd.
Price of the day saw ten 55kg lambs average €131/hd. Cast ewes sold from €100-120/hd.
A huge sale, with over 2,500 sheep on offer, and prices among the lambs improved.
Sample prices saw 40-41kgs sell for €103-106/hd, with 45-46kgs averaging €113-116/hd.
In the heavier section 49kgs sold to €124/hd, with 59kgs making €120/hd.
On the store side samples included 32-35kgs at €76-82/hd.
The story here was also of bigger numbers and an improved trade for store lambs, with sample prices seeing 36.8kgs making €91/hd, 33.7kgs €79/hd, 34.2kgs €83/hd and 38.3kgs €94/hd.
Best of the spring lambs saw 47.6kgs making €118/hd, with other prices including €115-116/hd for 46kgs, €117/hd for 50.5kgs and €109/hd for 44.9kgs.
Cast ewes sold from €65-126/hd, with stags also €65-126/hd.
Yesterday saw a tidy sale here accompanied by a good trade. Prices among the lambs saw 46-47kg selling from €113-116/hd, with 41-44kgs making €94-100/hd.
Among the heavier types samples included 52-53kgs at €124-128/hd, with the top call of the day seeing 57kgs ringing up €130/hd. Cull ewes made €74-118/hd.
Sample prices here saw 36-38kg lambs sell from €93-96/hd, with lighter 34kg lambs making €86/hd. In the 46-51kg category prices averaged €108-116/hd. Cull ewes sold from €75-105/hd.
Was paid for ten 55kg lambs at Athenry
Paid for 52kg lambs at Corrin