Recent momentum in the sheep trade showed no signs of slowing in Carnew Mart’s sheep sale on Thursday.

The mart recorded record prices for a January sale date with a top price of €163 paid for a batch of fleshed hoggets weighing 70.8kg.

Another batch of hoggets presented by the same producer and weighing 60.7kg sold for €159.

Strong trade

Manager David Quinn said the trade was by far the strongest he has seen at this time of the year for slaughter-fit sheep.

He reported that there was in the region of another 500 sheep which topped the €150 mark, with these typically lots weighing in excess of 50kg.

Butchers and wholesale buyers were keen to source fleshed lambs, but met a massive appetite for sheep from factory agents leading to intense competition.

David said that prices were €10 to €12 higher on the week for slaughter-fit sheep, with some lots up to €14 per head higher.

A number of buyers had made arrangements to transport hoggets bought early in the sale so they could be slaughtered on Thursday

He commented that the demand from factory agents was at such a strong level that a number of buyers had made arrangements to transport hoggets bought early in the sale so they could be slaughtered on Thursday.

Prices for sheep weighing 49kg to 55kg ranged from €147 to €154 for fleshed types, with lots lacking flesh selling back to €145.

Hoggets weighing 46kg to 48kg sold on average from €137 to €146, with a few lots of excellent-quality sheep exceeding 48kg selling to €148 per head.

High throughput

David says that throughput in Thursday’s sale was also significantly higher for the time of year.

This was driven by more producers opting to trade sheep in the mart to take advantage of the high level of competition and vibrant trade.

There was a sharp trade for stores, with specialist finishers out in force to buy sheep.

Sheep weighing 38kg to 42kg sold anywhere from €118 to €126 for hill breeds, with some tight-woolled fleshed lowland lambs selling up to €134.

David says there was only a handful of lots selling below the €100 mark, with light store lambs weighing 33kg to 36kg selling from €102 to €112.

Cull and in-lamb ewes

The cull ewe trade was also much stronger, with large fleshed ewes selling from €120 to a top of €141 per head.

Medium-weight ewes sold from €100 to €115, while feeding ewes and Cheviot ewes lacking flesh sold from €85 to €100.

A small selection of poorly fleshed ewes including a couple of pens of Scottish Blackface ewes sold from €40 to €65.

There was also 10 to 12 batches of aged in-lamb ewes presented for sale.

Full and broken mouth ewes carrying 1.5 to 1.8 lambs on average sold from €150 to €170, with the best-quality ewes carrying two lambs per ewe selling to a top of €198.