New record average prices were set at the annual sale of Suffolk Cheviot and Continental cross hoggets and ewe lambs at Ballymena Mart on Saturday 3 August.

In total, 4,500 animals were forwarded for sale, up 20% on last year, with a 96% clearance rate across the lots on offer.

In the hogget section, prices averaged £202.85, up £10 per head on the sale in 2021, and £23 per head ahead of the average from 2020.

Top price of £335 per head was paid for a pen of 12 Suffolk Cheviots offered by M Breen from Tempo, who also received £325 per head for a pen of eight. Other leading prices saw £300 paid to R Carlisle, Newtownabbey, £285 to W Blackburn, Clogher, and £275 to D Knox, Kesh. The top price paid in 2021 for a pen of hoggets was £270.

Ewe lambs

A large entry of ewe lambs saw the average down £3 per head on the 2021 sale, to finish at £117, although that is still ahead of the £115 paid in 2020.

Leading the sale was L Anderson, Kilwaughter, with a pen of 10 averaging £230, up significantly on the highest price of £200 paid in 2020.

The same vendor also sold ewe lambs at £170 and £150 per head.

Other leading prices saw AM McFarlane secure £175, £160 and £145 for various pens of ewe lambs.

Alexander sale

Meanwhile, a total entry of 1,243 gimmers averaged £223 at the annual sale of breeding sheep from the Jalex flock of Nelson and James Alexander, Randalstown, on Wednesday 3 August.

The sale, conducted by Carlisle auctioneers Harrison and Hetherington, saw 696 Suffolk cross gimmers averaging £215 with a top price of £520 paid.

Cheviot mules averaged £252 across 208 head, with a top price of £360 recorded, while Texel gimmers averaged £220 for 177 head, topping out at £1,200 for a pedigree animal.

Beltex cross averaged £214 with a peak of £240, and Scottish mules finished at £192 with a top price of £260.

The sale saw the majority of sheep sold to repeat customers, although buyers were more cautious on price compared to previous years, with the sale average down on the £259 recorded last year.

The Jalex flock will hold a special sale of around 100 tups on Friday 19 August, with animals approved for export to Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

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