Supplies of hoggets are continuing to dwindle and the quality of hoggets on offer is becoming very mixed.
Commenting on the trade, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said farmers needed to ensure they maximised the value of their stock by bargaining hard on price and carcass weight.
Kepak Hacketstown leads the way for the cull ewe quotes at 310c/kg. The ICM plants, Kildare and Dawn Ballyhaunis are quoting an unchanged 300c/kg.
Meanwhile, Bord Bia reported a continued firm trade last week in Britain, with the hogget trade improved slightly as demand increased in the run up to the May bank holiday.
Live market prices increased by 5c to the equivalent of €5.85/kg deadweight including VAT by the weekend. Despite higher supplies of spring lamb, prices increased by 5c to €6.75/kg by the weekend.
In France, promotional activity helped to maintain demand for sheep meat. This, combined with tight supplies of Irish and British product, helped improve Irish grade one spring lamb prices to €6.94-7.04/kg inclusive of VAT.
Meanwhile, the mart trade has remained just as strong after Easter, with good quality new season lambs selling for up to €113 over the weight this week.
Prices in excess of €100 over appeared to be freely available for any well-fleshed lambs. In the breeding stock, young ewes with twin lambs at foot made up to €300/unit, while heavy cull ewes hit a high of €180 each.
The top price at Athenry Mart yesterday was €156 for a pen of 50kg lambs, but the general run of prices for quality 40-50kg lambs was €90-100 over the weight. Good cull ewes sold up to a top price of €150, which was paid for a pen of 10 heavy culls.
In the south, lambs sold for €93-103 over the weight at Fermoy Mart.
Baltinglass Mart had a solid trade for lambs and ewes with twin lambs at foot. Ewes with a pair of lambs made €220-270/unit. Ewes with singles sold for €130-175/unit. Prices for the cull ewes ranged from €90-120/hd.
Heavy butcher-type 45-50kg lambs sold for €125-135/hd. Factory lambs from 40-45kg sold for €90-120/hd, while lighter lots of 35-40kg made €70-84 each.
Hoggets at Maam Cross made €80-120hd, while spring lambs sold for up to €125/hd and ewes with lambs at foot made €105-230/unit.
Numbers were up at Mountbellew, where all categories of sheep met an extremely brisk trade. Prices for heavy lots of cull ewes rose by €10-20/hd, as some lots sold for €140-180/hd. The rest made €82-140.
Spring lamb prices hit a top price of €113 over the weight when seven 47kg lambs made €160.50 each, but the general run was €90-100 over.
Hoggets sold for €50-70 over the €1/kg, while some ewe hoggets made up to €90 over.