The sheep trade continues to record upward momentum, with buyers anxious to get their hands on higher numbers.

Carnew Mart manager David Quinn said the trade for lambs on Thursday last was as strong as he has witnessed at this stage of the year, with lambs weighing upwards of 50kg selling from €135 to a top of €145 for 58kg lambs.

Mart manager David Quinn said the trade was as strong as he has seen it at this early stage in a new year. / Patrick Browne

He said the mart recorded a higher entry than anticipated due to sub-zero temperatures and challenging road conditions, with in excess of 900 lambs on offer.

Despite this number, David said demand still outstripped supply.

Run of prices

The typical run of prices for nicely fleshed lambs weighing 49kg to 54kg was from €135 to €139.

A total of just over 200 lambs in this bracket weighing 51kg on average sold for €137.

There were several lots of excellent-quality or heavier lambs which passed the €140 mark.

Here, the average weight was 55kg and the average sale price was €141.

Wholesalers sourcing suitable sheep

David said butcher and wholesale buyers were keen to source suitable sheep and replenish stocks, with sales reported as breaking from the norm and holding strong at the start of January.

Lighter, fleshed lambs weighing 46kg to 48kg sold from €128 to €133 on average.

Specialist finishers armed with higher returns for finished lambs were willing to pay significantly higher for store lambs, with a noticeable appetite for longer-keep lambs weighing in the region of 35kg to 38kg.

Prices ranged from €101 to €109, with heavier stores weighing 39kg to 41kg ranging in price from €110 to €119, with a few lots of nice-quality ewe lambs at the higher end of this price range.

Price reflective of quality

There was also plenty of buyers for tail-end or average-quality light store lambs.

Price was very much dependent on quality, with this reflected in two pens of 28kg stores, one of which sold for the lowest price of €72, while the other pen of good-quality lambs sold for €85.

Lambs weighing 30kg to 33kg sold from €80 to €92 on average, with a few pens of nice-quality Cheviot ewe lambs rising to €100.

Cull ewe trade

The cull ewe trade has not taken off to the same extent as lambs, but it is slowly gaining momentum, with a solid trade for an entry of almost 300 ewes.

Fleshed ewes sold from €105 to €120, with David commenting that there were no real heavy fleshed ewes to push prices higher.

Fleshed Cheviot ewes sold from €80 to €100, with a few lots of larger-framed and crossbred ewes exceeding €100.

Medium-sized Cheviot ewes and those lacking flesh typically ranged from €65 to €87.