Sheep sales held in recent days have recorded entries of spring lambs gradually climbing while hogget supplies have dried up with some sales only recording a handful of lots on offer. The falloff in hogget numbers has put more life in to demand for spring lambs.

At Athenry Mart on Monday, lambs weighing from 42kg to 44kg sold from €153 to €160 in the main. Lots weighing 45kg to 48kg sold €157 to €167, with heavier lambs weighing up to 50kg selling to €170 on average.

A handful of excellent-quality fleshed lambs sold to a top of €176 to €179. Two standout prices included €178 paid for 46kg lambs and €179 paid for 50kg butcher-type lambs. Hoggets sold from €155 to €162 in the main with a couple of lots of ewe hoggets weighing 66kg and 67kg selling for €178 and €177, respectively.

Corrin Mart

There was a similar trade in Cork Marts Corrin sales centre on Monday. Lambs weighing 45kg to 47kg sold from €158 to €164 on average with pens of top-quality fleshed lambs weighing 48kg to 52kg selling from €160 to €170.

There was a sharp trade for cull ewes with ewes weighing upwards of 100kg selling from €194 to €216 while ewes weighing 90kg to 95kg sold from €€180 to €195 for fleshed types.

The condition of ewes on offer has a huge bearing on the sale price and this was evident in a pen of large-framed ewes lacking flesh and weighing 81kg selling for €129 while fleshed ewes weighing 85kg sold to €184/head.

Kilkenny Mart

Kilkenny Mart had an entry of 400 head. Fleshed lambs weighing 43kg to 45kg are reported as selling from €the mid to high-€160s while top-quality lots weighing 49kg and 54kg were standout features of the sale selling for €176 and €184 each.

There was a significant number of hoggets on offer with those weighing 48kg to 53kg reported as selling from €154 to €165 with a selection of heavy hoggets weighing over 62kg exceeding the €170 mark.

Dead trade

Hogget throughput in factories has also reduced albeit not to the same extent as in mart sales. This is putting more emphasis on lamb supplies with firm demand reflected in Kildare Chilling increasing its base quote by 10c/kg to €8.00/kg plus their 10c/kg quality assurance bonus.

Prices being achieved by farmers with greater negotiating power range from €8.10/kg to €8.20/kg with some producers with longstanding relationships and agents handling significant numbers now achieving returns of €8.25/kg to €8.30/kg.

The cull ewe trade is solid with quotes unchanged at an average of €3.80/kg. Those with significant numbers are pushing prices to €3.90/kg to €4/kg while agents handling significant numbers are negotiating in excess of €4/kg.