There has been some variation in sale reports from sheep marts over the last week.

Some factory agents circulated a narrative at the end of last week that hogget prices were coming under pressure while some plants reduced opening quotes by 10c/kg.

As a result, some marts held on Saturday witnessed factory agents not willing to compete to the same extent, with prices easing anywhere from €3 to €8 per head or even greater in cases. This saw prices for quality hoggets top out at €170 to €172 when in the previous week they reached €177 to €180.

The negative pressure was short-lived, however, with factories tight on hogget supplies on Monday morning giving the go-ahead to agents to pay more to get supplies.

Prices quickly rebounded and marts held on Monday recorded prices for quality, fleshed hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg ranging from €170 to €180.

Quality lots weighing 47kg to 49kg sold from €155 to €165 and hit as high as €170.

There is a noticeable decline in the quality of hoggets appearing, with more mixed-quality and tail-end lots on offer along with ewe hoggets lacking flesh cover.

This is leading to a price differential of €6 to €10 opening up between the prices quoted above and what is being paid for lesser-quality types.

Cull ewes

The trade for cull ewes has improved significantly and the mart trade is now looking like by far the best outlet for heavy cull ewes.

Quality lowland ewes weighing from 90kg to 100kg are selling anywhere from €130 to €160, with select ewes, some of which are weighing in excess of 100kg, selling for as high as €170 to €180 in cases. Ewes weighing 80kg to 85kg are selling from €110 to €130 on average, with lots lacking flesh selling from €90 to €110.

Lighter ewes weighing 70kg to 75kg are selling anywhere from €80 to €100.

The trade for ewes with lambs at foot remains solid. Good-quality ewes with twin lambs at foot and aged about three to five weeks are selling in the main from €230 to €280, with poor-quality units selling from €180 upwards. Single-lamb outfits are trading in the main from €150 to €180, with hogget ewes or ewes with strong lambs at foot selling to €200 to €220.