The mart trade has stepped up another notch in the last week, with prices rising by an average of €3 to €5/head.

There is some variation in prices reported across marts, with marts with very tight numbers and an intense competition between factory agents, butchers and wholesalers witnessing the greatest movement.

An increasing number of good-quality hoggets weighing in excess of 50kg are selling to a price range from €210 to €230/head, with heavy lots weighing 57kg to upwards of 60kg rising in cases to €235 and higher.

Fleshed hoggets weighing 48kg to 49kg are selling anywhere from the mid-€190s for hill types to in excess of €210, while lighter fleshed lots weighing 44kg to 46kg are trading from the mid-€180 for hill types to as high as €200.

Managers comment that entries are being underpinned by higher numbers of ewe hoggets being presented and by producers opting to market sheep live.

Spring lamb numbers are relatively tight, with entries significantly lower than the corresponding period in 2023. Lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg are trading on average from €190 to €215, with potential slaughter performance having a massive bearing on lighter lots. Heavier lambs weighing 49kg to 50kg upwards are trading from €210 to €225 with certain lots rising to €235 and higher.

The cull ewe trade is brimming in confidence, with ewes of all type in demand. Fleshed ewes are topping the €2/kg mark with relative ease, with significant numbers trading from €2.10/kg to €2.35/kg and the best-quality lots trading in excess of €2.50/kg.

Hill ewes are trading anywhere from €1.50/kg to €1.90/kg depending on likely carcase weight and conformation. There are very few ewes with the exception of boner-types selling back to €1/kg.

Demand for ewes with lambs at foot is slowly building. Twin lamb outfits range from €150 to €180 for aged hill ewes to €200 to €250 for aged or poor-quality lowland lots and to over €300 for younger ewes with quality lambs. Likewise, single lamb lots range anywhere from €120 to €230.