Many marts estimate that throughput levels have peaked in the last week, with store lambs coming on stream in significantly higher numbers and breeding sales in full flow.

Some marts in sheep strongholds have recorded throughput of upwards of 3,000 to 3,500 where special breeding sales have been held in conjunction with weekly sales.

The trade for breeding sheep is positive, while feedback on the store lamb trade is variable, with sales of store hill lambs disappointing.

The general run of prices for top-quality hoggets is ranging from €185 to €220, with select lots rising to €250 and higher.

Lighter hoggets with good breeding potential are selling from €160 to €180, with light and plain-quality types back to €130 to €140 on occasion.

Lowland store lambs are meeting steady demand, with prices for well-presented lambs ranging on average from €2.65/kg to €2.85/kg.

Top-quality lots including ewe lambs with breeding potential are rising to €3/kg and higher, while poorly presented lambs or light lambs lacking considerable flesh are trading back to €2.50/kg.

Reports from hill regions are disappointing, with a significant variation in price evident.

Light male hill lambs that exhibit poor scope to carry weight are selling from as low as €2/kg, with better-quality and heavier lambs selling from €2.20/kg to €2.40/kg.

Ewe lambs are trading anywhere from €2.50/kg to €3/kg, with quality dictating price.

The trade for slaughter-fit lambs is steady, with the mart remaining a good outlet for heavy top-quality lambs.

Such lambs over 50kg are trading from €140 to upwards of €150, with select lots of butcher-type lambs selling to €155 and as high as €160 on rare occasions.

Heavy cull ewes remain a better price prospect in mart sales, with top-quality ewes selling from €1.80/kg to €2/kg.

Producers are strongly advised to batch ewes accordingly to generate maximum interest.

Medium-quality ewes are trading from €1.60/kg to €1.80/kg, with lowland and crossbred ewes short of flesh selling from €1.20/kg to €1.40/kg and back to €1/kg and under for Scottish Blackface ewes lacking cover.