George Candler of Kilkenny Mart commented after his sale yesterday that the numbers of sheep decreasing was helping to increase demand for all types.
Looking longer term, George speculated on where factories might turn to keep numbers up in the New Year should domestic slaughterings fall.
"With the loses that occurred during the bad weather early in the New Year it looks as though numbers will not be over big between now and the next lambing season. Factories will probably be depending on Britain and Northern Ireland to consolidate," he predicted.
With the Brexit deadline forcing the issue of the border under the spotlight, the traditional trade in sheep coming in from the Six Counties and further afield for slaughter in the Republic will no doubt be examined in great detail in 2019.
Whether there might actually be a benefit to ordinary sheep farmers in the Republic is at this point impossible to say.
Numbers here fell for the first time this autumn last week, although that did not seem to affect the trade, with prices seeing little or no change. Store lambs sold from €60-82/hd. Fat ewes made €60-101/hd, while ewe lambs sold for €84-112/hd.
A big sale, but with plenty of farmers about to mop up on the store side, the result was that prices rose by €2-4/hd across all sections. Lambs over 50kg sold from €102-110/hd, with those of 45-49kg making €96-105/hd. Lambs weighing 40-44kg made €85-97/hd. Among the stores, those under 35kg sold for €65-86/hd, with heavier lots making €80-93/hd. Cull ewes made €45/hd to €119/hd, while breeding ewes ranged from €70/hd to €115/hd.
This was also a big sale with but, again, there were plenty of customers out for a quota of stores. Fat lambs and ewes also met a lively trade, with butchers' lambs selling for €101-104/hd, while fat ewes made €105-120/hd. Factory lambs sold for €95-101/hd, with feeding ewes making €67-100/hd.
The trade for store lambs here was also very positive, with their prices reported as being improved by around €2/hd. Trade for butcher types was also reported as improved. Sample prices saw 55kgs making €106/hd, with the better 44-47kg lamb selling to a top of €97-102/hd. The tops of the 35-41kg lambs saw prices in the €90-94/hd range. Cast ewes sold for €50-105/hd.
There was a smaller yard of sheep here yesterday, resulting in an improved trade all round. Top call among the butchers' lambs was for €113/hd for 10 at 59kg. Overall prices for those heavier lambs range from €105/hd for 52kgs to that €113/hd for 59kgs. In the factory section prices ranged from €95/hd for 44kgs to €111/hd for 50kgs. Store lambs sold for €70-85/hd on weights from 34kg to 42kg. Cast ewes made from €50/hd to €115/hd.
Yesterday's sale saw a general improvement as numbers fell. Butcher type lambs from 48-55kg sold for €100-116/hd. Samples included 47.5kgs at €113/hd, 46kgs at €104/hd and 53kgs at €109/hd. Among the stores and factory types, prices ranged from €75/hd to €99/hd, with sample prices here including 45kgs at €99/hd, 41kgs at €87/hd and 45kgs at €93/hd. Cull ewes sold from €36/hd to €91/hd, with the majority not slipping below a base of €65/hd.