The majority of mart managers report a much more positive tune, with all categories of stock receiving a boost in demand and prices.

Heavy lambs weighing 50kg to 55kg are selling on average from €155 to €165/head depending on condition and quality.

Select lots of excellent-quality lambs and heavier lots are exceeding this range, while heavier lambs lacking significant flesh or offering lower slaughter performance are selling back to €150/head.

Demand is such that factory agents are active for lambs weighing down to 44kg to 45kg, as long as they possess a good cover of flesh.

The differential between fleshed lambs of such weight and store lambs has not widened as expected, with store lamb buyers increasing activity and inserting a good floor under the trade.

Nice-quality lowland lambs are trading from €135 to €145/head with kill-out potential dictating prices paid.

Store lamb prices are in the region of €2.80/kg to €3.20/kg for top-quality lambs presented in even batches, with appetite for lighter lambs greatly improving.

Good-quality forward hill lambs are trading anywhere from €2.50/kg to €2.85/kg, while light lambs which were as low as €2/kg have lifted in price by 20c/kg to 30c/kg.

The cull ewe trade is also sharper, with buyers active for ewes for exporting live or to supply niche contracts back at the ringside.

This has lifted the price of heavy ewes anywhere from €3 to €8/head. Typical prices paid for heavy ewes weighing upwards of 90kg range from €145 to €175, with growing numbers hitting €2/kg and higher.

Medium-weight ewes are trading from €1.45/kg to €1.80/kg with quality again dictating prices. Lighter ewes have improved also with fleshed lots selling from €1/kg to €1.30/kg.

Mart are beginning to handle higher numbers of in-lamb ewes. Prices for mature ewes carrying 1.5 to 1.8 lambs average from €160 to €190, with stronger demand for ewes lambing in February and early March.

Select lots of younger ewes are rising to €220 to €240, but demand is limited.