The trade in live sales is benefiting from a much more vibrant dead trade, with mart managers reporting hogget prices rising by €3 to €5 on average in the last week.

Sheep entries are variable across regions.

A number of marts in early lamb regions have organised special spring lamb sales for the second half of this week or early next week and this is likely to lead to a significant increase in numbers in these regions.

Prices paid for top-quality hoggets range in the main from €100 to €104 over the weight, with top prices rising to €107 to €108 with the weight.

Some marts are reporting a significant increase in heavy ewe hoggets coming on the market in recent days. Hoggets weighing 55kg to 60kg are selling from €153 to €162 in the main.

There is low levels of interest from farmer buyers and, as such, top-quality lots are only making a premium of €3 to €5/head above factory or butcher prices.

Plainer-quality hoggets or those lacking flesh are selling back to €92 to €96 over the weight, depending on quality.

Factories are dropping down in weights for hoggets with a suitable cover of flesh and suitable hoggets weighing from 46kg upwards are selling from €98 to €103 with the weight for quality lots and back to €90 over for plainer-quality lots.

The cull ewe trade is solid. Heavy-fleshed ewes continue to range from €145 to €175 on average and rise in isolated cases to €200/head for ewes weighing in excess of 100kg. Numbers in this bracket are small, but demand is solid.

Medium-weight ewes are trading from €100 to €130/head, with only small numbers of fleshed lowland ewes falling below this price point.

Ewes lacking flesh and Scottish Blackface ewes continue to sell from 80c/kg for ewes lacking significant flesh to €1/kg to €1.20/kg over.

The trade for ewes with lambs at foot remains variable. Ewes with twin lambs at foot are trading anywhere from €200 to €270 per unit, with top prices hitting €300 for young ewes with strong lambs. Ewes with a single lamb are selling from €150 to €245 per unit.