Many mart managers report butcher and wholesale buyers being at their most active level of purchasing this week. They say many are keen to get higher numbers on hand this week so they are in a good position for the main Christmas trade and can concentrate on turkey orders.

Sales with a strong butcher or wholesale buyer presence recorded top prices of €130 to €135 this week for select lots of excellent-quality lambs weighing upwards of 50kg. Buyers also put a good stir into the trade for lighter but top-quality lots weighing 47kg to 49kg, with the best prices reported ranging in general from €122 to €128.

Lambs weighing 50kg to 53kg are trading on average from €123 to €128

Factory agents are also keen for sheep and while not the winning bidder in many of these top-priced lots, they are pushing prices on hard.

Lambs weighing 50kg to 53kg are trading on average from €123 to €128, with mixed-quality lots weighing well but lacking some flesh falling back to €120 and in cases back to €115 for lots likely to kill poorly.

Well-fleshed lambs weighing 47kg to 49kg with good kill-out potential are capable of making €117 to €125.

Demand for ewe lambs remains solid and mart managers report lambs with breeding potential continuing to command a price premium averaging from €2 to €4 per head higher, with isolated reports of top-quality ewe lambs weighing in excess of 50kg and as high as 57kg to 60kg hitting top prices of €135 to €140.

Medium-sized ewes range from €100 to €110, with fleshed crossbred ewes from €85 to €100

The cull ewe trade has also heated up on the back of factory prices edging upwards.

Fleshed large-framed lowland ewes are averaging from €110 to €125, with isolated reports of ewes weighing upwards of 100kg liveweight selling to €135 or higher.

Medium-sized ewes range from €100 to €110, with fleshed crossbred ewes from €85 to €100.

Lowland feeding ewes with any potential to do a quick thrive and carry weight are selling from €85 to €100.

Fleshed Scottish Blackface ewes range in general from €50 to €60 with larger breed strains to €70 or higher. Lots with an average cover of flesh range from €44 to €52 on average.