There are odd pens of ewe hoggets appearing in mart sales and early reports indicate that there is firm demand present.

This is being helped by the strong cull ewe trade, with farmers keen to replace numbers and adhere to Sheep Welfare Scheme stocking rate requirements.

There were plenty of customers for an entry of 150 ewe hoggets in Carnew Mart on Thursday. Quality had a major influence on prices paid, with hoggets selling in a wide price range from €150 to a top of €258.

The two top prices of €258 and €250 were paid for well-grown pens of Texel-cross hoggets weighing 73.8kg and 77kg respectively. A few batches of similar weight but slightly lesser-quality hoggets sold from €210 to €220/head while nice-quality but lighter hoggets weighing around 60kg to 63kg averaged around €200/head. Lighter crossbred hoggets and smaller-framed lowland hoggets weighing between 50kg and 60kg sold from €150 to €180.

The trade in marts for lambs eased anywhere by €3 to €8/head, depending on the category of lambs and prices recorded in the previous week.

Good-quality and well-fleshed heavier lambs are tight in supply and this is inserting more bite in the trade between butcher and wholesale buyers.

It has witnessed prices paid for top-quality lambs weighing in excess of 50kg range from €150 to €158/head. Factory-type lambs weighing 47kg to 50kg are trading from €144 to €152, with flesh cover having a strong influence on prices paid.

This is especially evident in lighter lambs, with lots weighing 44kg to 46kg selling from €135 to €148.

The trade for store lambs is solid, with more buyers appearing in line with an increased number on offer. Prices for short-keep and heavier lambs range from €2.85/kg to €3.10/kg for lambs weighing 38kg to 40kg upwards.

The price per kilo for light store lambs is higher, with lambs in the 30kg to 35kg weight bracket from €3/kg to €3.20 or €3.35/kg for nice-quality ewe lambs, while crossbred types are in cases falling back to €2.80/kg to €2.90/kg.