The highlight of the trade on Monday is the strong reports surfacing from sheep sales.

Cork Marts Corrin sales yard in Fermoy topped the highlights, with a top price of €164 paid for Charollais-cross ewe hoggets weighing 51.8kg.

The sale was not a one-off, with the hammer falling on another pen of 11 hoggets weighing 55.6kg at €162.

Another notable price achieved was €158 paid on two occasions for hoggets weighing 50.6kg and 53.3kg.

Tight supplies

The trade was driven by tight supplies, with an entry of just 17 lots of hoggets.

Butchers and wholesalers are finding it increasingly challenging to get their hands on well-fleshed hoggets and are also meeting strong opposition from factory agents trying to satisfy increased demand.

It was a similar story in Athenry, Co Galway.

While the top prices did not reach the heights of those in Fermoy, there was still a very strong trade, with the €150 mark exceeded on nine occasions, as prices ranged from €150 to €154 for hoggets weighing from 50kg to in excess of 60kg.

Ennis Mart in Co Clare reported Monday’s trade being a good bit stronger, driven by greater activity from butchers and wholesalers.

Sample Ennis prices

Sample prices include a top of €159 for 10 hoggets weighing 54.5kg, €157 paid for eight hoggets weighing 56.5kg and €151 paid for four hoggets weighing 51.5kg.

As is the case in all sales, there is a price differential of as high as €7 to €10 per head between the top-quality lots and plainer-quality types or those lacking flesh.

Factory-type hoggets weighing 50kg sold from €140 upwards in general, with hoggets weighing 48kg to 49kg selling from €136 to €145.

Factory trade

Factories are trying to keep a cap on prices and are trying to purchase hoggets at a price range of €6.30/kg to €6.40/kg.

Finishers handling large numbers are securing €6.45/kg in cases or slightly higher when allowances on transport are factored into the price.

Producers handling smaller numbers or selling on an occasional basis are typically trading from €6.20/kg to €6.30/kg for quality assured lamb, with a number of mart managers commenting that they have handled sheep in recent days from buyers that might normally sell direct to factories, but whom opted for the live trade due to difficulties in negotiating on price.