Sheep prices have firmed in recent days and while factory agents are trying to keep a lid on quotes, greater competition in mart sales has resulted in prices rising by €3 to €5/head.

Kilkenny Mart auctioneer George Candler reported that Monday’s sale included a slightly higher entry of 350 head.

Hoggets peaked at €165 for a batch of 10 weighing 56kg, while other lots weighing from 53kg to 55kg sold from €160 to €164.

Hoggets weighing in the region of 49kg to 52kg are reported as selling from €157 to €158, while fleshed hoggets weighing from 44kg to 47kg sold from €147 to €149/head.

Brisk trade

The trade in Ennis Mart, Co Clare, on Monday was brisk, with a full clearance of a smaller entry of 400 head on offer this week. Hoggets were reported as being dearer to the tune of €3 to €5/head.

Average prices for hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg ranged from €154 to €162, with a batch of Texel ram lambs weighing 77kg selling for €167.

Fleshed lambs weighing from 47kg to 49kg sold from €95 to €100 over the weight.

Ewes were also a vibrant trade, with heavy ewes weighing in excess of 90kg selling from €150 to €175 on average and reaching €180 to €188 for individual lots exceeding 100kg liveweight.

Improved trade

The trade in Athenry Mart, Co Galway, was improved on average by €2 to €4/head.

Hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg, which were selling from €152 to €155 and struggling to pass this price level last week, sold on Monday from €154 to €158, with top-quality lots rising to €160 to €161 and higher on occasion.

Ewes were also a flying trade, with prices for heavy fleshed ewes the standout of the sale and reaching €198 for three large-framed heavy ewes weighing 102kg.

Factory prices

Factory quotes are largely unchanged, with factories trying to keep a lid on prices paid.

Producer groups and producers working on a pricing mechanism of average prices have seen prices rising by 5c/kg to 10c/kg on the back of Kildare Chilling lifting its base quote by 10c/kg last week to a base of €6.80/kg.

There are very few hoggets moving below this price range, with significant numbers trading from individual sellers from €6.80/kg to €6.90/kg.

Regular sellers and groups are pushing prices to €7/kg, including deals with transport also paid, while at the top end of the market, straight prices are rising to €7.05/kg to €7.10/kg.

The ewe trade remains buoyant, with relatively tight numbers helping the trade.

Quotes are in the region of €3.50/kg, with individual sellers securing returns rising to €3.60/kg to €3.65/kg and regular sellers trading at the top end of the market receiving returns of €3.70/kg to €3.80/kg.