The increase in price is attracting slightly higher numbers on to the market. This can be seen in higher entries in mart sales in some areas, but in others supplies are tight and numbers continue to fall off.

Price reports from marts held over the weekend and since the start of the week are positive, with some sales up €1 to €2 per head.

Hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg are selling from €140 to €145 on average for lots weighing 50kg to 54kg, with a few lots of heavier hoggets weighing 55kg to 60kg-plus from €146 to €150. Hoggets weighing 47kg to 48kg are trading from €130 to €137 depending on flesh cover, while forward stores weighing 43kg to 45kg are selling from €120 to €128 on average.

Hoggets weighing 35kg to 39kg are selling anywhere from €80 to €90 for crossbred and average-quality lots to in excess of €100 for quality tight-woolled stores.

There is also solid appetite for Scottish Blackface and Cheviot ewe lambs with breeding potential, with prices ranging from €2.80/kg to as high as €3.10/kg to €3.20/kg.

Sales of in-lamb ewes are hugely variable and this is being driven by a large variation in quality. Good-quality, young in-lamb ewes in good body condition and lambing in early March are trading in individual lots from an average of €180 to €200 for ewes carrying a litter size of 1.6 to two lambs.

Dispersal sales are attracting more interest and recording higher prices.

This was evident in a sale of quality in-lamb ewes in Dowra Mart last week, with ewes carrying 1.8 to two lambs selling from €190 upwards for aged lots, with younger sheep selling from €200 to a top of €245.

This contrasts with sales of plainer-quality crossbred or aged ewes a significant distance from lambing with prices ranging from €120 for ewes scanning poorly or presented not scanned to €160.

Appetite for ewes with lambs at foot is strongest for units with strong lambs, which is not surprising given current weather conditions. Prices are starting in the region of €200 for units with younger lambs to as high as €270 to €300 for units with large-framed young ewes and two strong lambs at foot. Likewise, single-lamb lots range anywhere from €150 to €210.