The top-priced pen of hogget ewes at Wednesday’s 35th annual show and sale of the Tullow Sheep Breeders Association made €295/head, according to Tullow mart manager Eric Driver.

The pen of top-quality sheep was bred by Patrick and Kathleen Kenny, Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

Ewe lamb sale toppers reached similar heights, with the day’s top entry selling for €260/head.

The Suffolk-cross lambs were overall prizewinners on the day and were bred by Ger Reed, Ballymount, Co Wicklow.

Eric said “there was a very steady trade right throughout the day” for the 1,000 ewe lambs and 1,250 hogget ewes entered, with an almost 100% clearance rate.

Uniform prices

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, the Tullow Mart manager described how strong demand for the Suffolk-cross-Cheviot breeding sheep, at one of the first breeding sales of the year, led to “more uniform” prices than last year.

He said that of the 125 pens of hogget ewes, 10% made over €250/head, 70% made between €210 and €250 and the other 20% made in the region of €190 to €210.

Driver reported that while overall the ewe lambs presented may have been lighter than last year, their quality and breeding was better than ever and this resulted in higher prices.

Quality ewe lambs with further growth potential and weighing 38kg to 42kg made between €130 and €160.

Ewe lambs weighing around the 45kg mark made between €160 and €180, while top-quality heavier lots with strong breeding potential started at €170.

Several lots of ewe lambs weighing 48kg and above reached and exceeded €215/head.

Custom returned

Eric said that a lot of the Tullow Sheep Breeders Association’s regular customers were back this year, with a number returning for the first time in two to three years.

He said this repeat and renewed business comes down to the attitude of the Tullow Sheep Breeders Association and their welcome to the farmers buying their stock.

Driver said the Tullow ewe’s longevity, conformation and breeding potential, as well as her “ability to leave money behind in the cast ewe ring” are some of the major draws for commercial sheep farmers.

He said that despite rising farm input costs, farmer buyers displayed confidence in the sector on Wednesday.

“We have volume, quality of that volume and well-bred sheep,” he said.

The Tullow Sheep Breeders Association’s next sale is on Wednesday 24 August and more details are available here.

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