There have been numerous records set in mart sales this week across all sheep categories. Tullow Mart in Co Carlow recorded a price of €259 for a batch of seven top-quality Charollais-cross lambs weighing 49kg on Tuesday, while a number of marts have recorded cull ewes prices hitting and exceeding €300 per head in isolated cases for individual ewes.

This is on top of a vibrant hogget trade where opening quotes are upwards of €8.50/kg and top prices are heading for €9/kg.

Hogget quotes are running in the region of €2/kg ahead of the corresponding period in 2023. This equates to €46 higher on a typical 23kg carcase, while live prices are in many cases running upwards of €50 higher.

The mart trade has ignited for cull ewes with fleshed ewes easily topping a price of €2/kg. A growing number of heavy-fleshed ewes weighing upwards of 90kg to 100kg have breached the €200 mark in the last week with top prices rising to €200 to €250 per head.

Prices are running anywhere from €25 to €50 ahead of the corresponding week in 2023. Factory quotes are running 30c/kg to 50c/kg higher with the mart trade currently outshining the deadweight trade.

The sharp increase in prices in recent weeks is being underpinned by tight supplies failing to satisfy market demand which has been boosted by the Ramadan festival (10 March) and buying for the Easter trade (31 March).

Prices in Northern Ireland have increased by 20p/kg with base quotes for Thursday in the region of £7/kg (€8.17/kg).

Producers trading at the higher end of the market are securing 10p/kg to 20p/kg higher with intense competition evident from agents purchasing sheep for export to Ireland and Britain.