The trade for breeding sheep has settled this week after a strong start, where prices were up by €30/head to €50/head.

A number of large breeding sales took place over the course of last weekend and while prices are strong, trade has failed to continue to hit the heights many predicted prior to the season.

The continued excellent market performance of lamb and cull ewes in 2021, which has seen year-to-date deadweight lamb prices running more than 27% above the same time last year, was expected to provide specialist hogget and ewe lamb breeders with a significant bounce in trade this year.

What has become clear is that while buyers are willing to pay that bit more for quality stock, there is a limit to what that figure will be.

Top-quality hoggets are still up €20/head to €30/head, while the best of the ewe lambs are up by anything from €10/head to €15/head on average.

Clearances in sales are down slightly where prices have failed to reach some sellers expectations, but on the whole, exhibitors are happy with trade levels.

The Mayo Mule and Greyface group had its annual sale in Ballinrobe Mart last weekend, with the hoggets on Friday averaging €205/head, while the ewe lamb sale on Saturday recorded an average price of €151/head, both back around €5/head on the highs of last year’s sale.

Similarly, the Carrick Prolific Ewe Lamb Breeders held its third annual multi-breed sale in Carrick-on-Shannon on Friday evening.

The group, with a growing reputation within the breeding sales calendar, expanded to over 1,000 lambs on offer this year and while prices for quality lots remained firm, a proportion of pens failed to meet sellers’ expectations and went home unsold.