The annual sale of Suffolk and Cheviot cross hoggets and ewe lambs kicked off the commercial sales of breeding sheep at Ballymena Mart on Saturday, 5 August.
Now in its 43rd year, the highly anticipated sale saw 4,200 breeding replacements going under the hammer, of which close on 3,500 head were sold to an average price of £188.79.
While the overall trade was brisk, prices were down on previous years, reflecting the collapse in fat lamb prices in recent weeks, as well as the rise in farm input costs.
In the hogget ring, the sale average was down £14/head on last year and also fell £3/head short of matching the 2021 average.
Despite this, Saturday’s sale was still the third highest average on record for the annual event at Ballymena. A smaller entry of ewe lambs sold in a much steadier trade. Prices averaged £117.40 across 840 head, equal to last year, but a marginal drop on the £120/head sale average recorded back in 2021.
Topping the hogget trade at £390 was a single lot from P Donnelly, with the main run of replacements running upwards to £310 on two separate occasions, down from last year’s peak of £335.
Other standout prices saw £295 paid for a pen of six Suffolk cross animals, followed by £292 paid for a pen of 12 hoggets. Another four pens of hoggets sold from £250 to £275, while £245 was paid on a further five occasions.
Leading sale averages saw £267.50 for WJ Donaghy, Rasharkin, followed by £254 for D Know, Kesh and £221 for P Donnelly, Martinstown.
Leading the trade for ewe lambs was a pen of 14 Suffolk cross animals at £175/head, followed by a pen of 12 similar animals at £170.
A further two pens made £160 and £165, with three vendors realising £150 to £155 for Suffolk cross lambs, followed by two pens at £145.