The first sheep sales of the year have started strongly.

Mart managers resuming normal service this week report prices increasing anywhere from €4 to €10 per head compared to before the Christmas break, with lambs weighing upwards of 50kg selling on average from €155 to €162 per head.

Higher prices are being secured in some sales where factory agents are competing with butcher/wholesale buyers.

Base factory quotes are steady to 5c/kg higher with a high percentage of quality-assured lambs trading from €6.70/kg to €6.85/kg and top prices reaching €6.90/kg to €6.95/kg.

Prices in Northern Ireland are creeping upwards with 5p/kg higher quotes.

Lambs are trading from £5.40/kg to £5.60/kg (€6.28/kg to €6.51/kg), depending on negotiating power.