With processors keeping a tight grip on the sheep trade, there is little change to the prices being paid for slaughter-fit hoggets and cull ewes sold through the live ring this week.

Most reports from mart managers indicate that factory agents are extremely active for stock.

But, unfortunately for those selling sheep, this is not translating into higher prices, as agents are unwilling to pay above the levels recorded last week.

This keeps finished hoggets on a price range of €150 to €155/head for the main run of animals weighing 50kg to 55kg liveweight.

At the top end of the market, wholesalers and butchers have been paying up to €160 for top-quality meal-finished hoggets, but numbers trading at this level are limited.

Lighter hoggets

For lighter sorts, hoggets weighing 48kg to 49kg are mainly trading around the €150 mark.

As in previous weeks, mart managers indicate that buyers are most active on meal-finished hoggets and willing to pay higher prices in return for animals with a good covering of flesh.

There is still considerable demand for lighter, short-keep stores weighing in the region of 40kg to 45kg.

In most cases, these animals are trading between €2.85/kg and €3.15/kg, which is on par with recent weeks, but are making upwards of €3.30/kg towards the top end of the market.

Cull ewes

The trade for cull ewes is generally holding firm, although some mart managers indicate there has been €2 to €3 more on offer where good-quality lots are forwarded.

Heavy ewes weighing 90kg and above continue to trade between €135 and €160, rising to €170 at the upper end of the market for animals with some level of lowland breeding present.

Lighter ewes

Lighter ewes around 80kg are being met with solid demand and prices remain on €140 to €150 for the main run.

Feeding ewes and hill-cross animals are making upwards from €100 to €120 depending on quality, while pure hill ewes are making €1 to €1.40/kg, with higher prices paid on animals carrying flesh.

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