There has been some variability in the trade reported for hoggets in recent days.

The trade continues to be challenged by factory price pressure and this is being witnessed to varying degrees in sales, with some variability to the tune of €2 to €4/head between sales.

Some sales are reporting the general run of prices paid for hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg ranging from €139 to €144, with odd prices above this range, while other mart sales, some of which have taken place midweek, are reporting prices ranging from €136 to €140 for similar weight sheep.

Butcher or wholesale demand is having an influence, in some cases.

There is also a significant differential between prices reported for fleshed hoggets and plainer-quality hoggets or those lacking significant flesh.

Some mart managers report they have seen ewe hoggets that would in other years possibly have been purchased by farmer buyers and presented with lower levels of flesh cover sell for €5 to €10 lower.

Demand is unfortunately being hit at present by lower levels of confidence linked to farmgate price pressure and higher input costs.

Store lambs

The trade for store lambs is holding pretty good, relative to the recent pressure seen in the finished lamb trade.

But it must be pointed out that there is even more variation in prices paid.

Nice-quality hoggets presented with a good cover of flesh are trading from €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg for lowland lots.

Plainer-quality lots or those lacking flesh are trading back to €2.40/kg, with crossbred types from €2.20/kg to €2.50/kg and light Scottish Blackface lambs remaining back at less than €2/kg.

Cull ewes

The trade for cull ewes has firmed slightly. The best demand is for quality ewes, with large-framed lots weighing 85kg to 95kg trading from €130 to €170.

Medium-weight lots are selling from €90 to €100, while ewes lacking flesh and Scottish Blackface ewes are trading from a low of 80c/kg up to €1.15/kg.