Mart managers are reporting much more life in sales since before the Christmas break and are recording price increases ranging anywhere from €4 to €10/head.

A significant differential also exists between marts, with some sales with a vibrant wholesale or butcher trade recording prices €3 to €8 above the average trend.

The general run of prices for lambs weighing in excess of 50kg is €155 to €162 in most marts, with lambs lacking considerable flesh falling back to the low €150s.

Top prices reported are in the region of €160 to €168, with isolated reports of select batches of heavy lambs weighing upwards of 55kg to 60kg selling to €170 and higher.

Lighter lambs

There is a similar differential for lighter lambs, with quality and flesh cover much more influential in prices paid.

Lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg are trading anywhere from €145 to the high €150s for lambs capable of delivering carcases hitting maximum weight limits.

Likewise, lambs weighing 45kg to 46kg are selling from €130/head to in excess of €140 for the best-quality fleshed lots.

Store lamb prices remain in the region of €2.70/kg to €2.90/kg for good-quality lowland lambs with a nice cover of flesh. Select lots are rising to €3/kg for lambs that are suitable for feeding on or immediate slaughter.

Cull ewes

Plainer-quality types are selling from €2.50/kg to €2.75/kg, while light hill lambs are selling in the main from €2.20/kg to €2.40/kg.

There seems to be more life in the trade for cull ewes. The general run of prices for heavy ewes weighing upwards of 90kg is €140 to €160/head, with select lots €10 to €20 higher on occasion.

Ewes weighing 80kg to 85kg are selling from €125 to €140 for top-quality lots, falling back to €110 to €115 for ewes with a poorer cover of flesh.

Lighter ewes weighing around 70kg range from €80 to €110 depending on quality.

Fleshed Scottish Blackface ewes are selling from €1/kg upwards, with boner types back to 70c/kg to 80c/kg.