The hogget trade has burst into life in the last week, with prices increasing anywhere from €4 to €10/head.

Sales entries have reduced significantly in many marts and with factories giving agents greater purchasing power, competition has ramped up.

Heavier fleshed hoggets are trading from €175 to €185, with top prices rising to and even exceeding the €190 mark for heavy super-quality lots.

Lighter-quality lots weighing 48kg to 50kg are now topping the €170/head mark in many sales, with average-quality types and those with a poorer cover of flesh selling back to the mid- to low-€160s, depending on potential kill-out.

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It is a similar story for hoggets weighing 45kg to 47kg, with prices paid heavily dependent on potential slaughter performance.

The best-quality types are selling from €157 to €163, while plainer-quality types are selling back to €150/head.

The strong trade is giving specialist finishers much more optimism, with buyers keen to replace stock and generating extra demand for store lambs.

A price of €3/kg is now being easily topped for plainer-quality lambs, with the best-quality types ranging anywhere from €3.40/kg to €3.60/kg and even higher for short-keep lots with a good cover of flesh.

The upturn in hogget prices is also fuelling improved demand for cull ewes.

Heavy fleshed ewes are falling within a price range of €150 to €180, with select lots of top-quality ewes weighing upwards of 100kg selling to €200/head and higher.

Medium-weight ewes are trading from €120 to €140/head, while demand for light ewes has also improved, with the majority of lowland and crossbred ewes with any reasonable cover of flesh topping €100/head, while Scottish Blackface ewes are trading from €1/kg to €1.30/kg to €1.50/kg.

Small numbers of ewes with lambs at foot are appearing. Young ewes with twin lambs are trading from €250 to €330, depending on the age of lambs and quality of the outfit.

Likewise, single lamb lots range in the main from €180 to €230, with poor-quality outfits back to €150.