Spring lamb prices at marts over the past week have witnessed an improvement of €2-4/head, on average, at the start of this week which was in line with factory prices improving.

However, rumblings of a price pull in the middle of week which materialised yesterday saw prices ease back in some marts.

On the other hand, prices were well maintained in some marts despite the easing of prices elsewhere, where factory agents had competition ringside for those quality fleshed lambs.

Looking at the trade in general up to now, heavy lambs, 50kg+ have been selling from €174-176/head up to highs of €180-186/head in general, with some instances of quality lambs selling to €195/head.

Quality, fleshed 45-49kg lambs have been pushing returns of €170-177/head and even more in cases, and selling back to €166/head in general.

Depending on a mix of factors, factory agents are paying anywhere from €150/head up to the highs as mentioned above, with prices across the board depending on weight, quality, flesh cover and the level of competition ringside.

The tight number of lambs is still helping to drive the trade, particularly where competition is fierce for lambs.

Store lambs are starting to come out in small numbers and are generally selling anywhere from €110/head up to €140-150/head.

A strong cull ewe trade continues to be seen at marts. In the main, prices for heavy ewes continue to range from €180/head up to €230/head – with cases of ewes selling up to €245-250/head.

Ewes with lambs at-foot also remain a good trade, with prices reaching highs of €340-360/unit for young ewes with twin lambs at-foot and starting from a base of €190-220/unit for older ewes.

Ewes with single lambs at foot have been making up to highs of €250/unit and starting from a base of €140-160/unit.

Hogget numbers continue to get smaller and smaller and those still entering the ring have generally been making from €150/head up to €170/head (for 50kg plus lots).

Prices above this level are confined to hogget ewes that are attracting farmer interest.

Mart managers have noted a small number of hogget ewes for breeding have started to show at some marts, with prices ranging from €180/head up to €225/head for these lots.