Reports from mart managers and an analysis of sale prices over the last week shows liveweight prices comparing favourably to deadweight prices.

Demand from factory agents was helped by tighter supplies in the market and was optimised in sales with an active butcher and wholesale trade.

Prices for well-fleshed lowland wether and ewe hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg ranged on average from €147 to €152, with top prices for heavier types rising in isolated cases to the mid-€150s.

Hill or crossbred ram hoggets and poorer-quality lowland hoggets sold back to €140 to €145 for fleshed types, while good-quality fleshed hoggets weighing around the 48kg mark traded anywhere from €137 to €144, depending on quality.

Sale entries appear to be marginally higher this week and some mart managers comment that where this has materialised, it has taken some of the bite out of the trade.

Subdued store trade

The recent increase in hogget quotes and brief respite in weather has put more life into a subdued store hogget trade.

Lowland hoggets weighing 37kg to 40kg are trading in the main from €2.70/kg to €2.90/kg, with the best-quality types presented in even batches with a good cover of flesh hitting, and in cases exceeding, €3.00/kg.

Hill and crossbred lambs short on flesh remain a challenging trade, with prices ranging from €2.40/kg to €2.60/kg for heavier types, falling back to €2/kg and under for light hoggets that will take significant time and a high investment in input costs to bring through to finish.

The trade for in-lamb ewes is sluggish, with small numbers appearing.

Good-quality ewes are trading on average from €150 to €175, with poor-quality lots back to €120 and many lots unsold at these rates.

Heavy ewes weighing from 90kg upwards are trading in the main from €130 to €155, with isolated lots selling to as high as €170 to €180/head.

Lighter ewes weighing 80kg to 85kg are trading from €100 to €125, with Scottish Blackface ewes from 80c/kg to €1/kg.