Sheep marts: ‘Prices for ewes with lambs at foot back €10-20/head’

Over the past 10 days, marts across the country have put in place strict social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The measures have been carried out so that cattle and sheep sales can continue to operate and allow buyers and sellers to keep livestock moving.

Despite the fact some marts have closed, the majority have kept their doors open. So far, marts have been happy with how these new measures have worked and that they will continue to listen to the advice of the Department of Agriculture on how to proceed with future sales.

Getting back to the trade, the majority of mart managers have said that the number of sheep on offer has declined significantly since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Heavy hoggets are making up to €140/head, which is back €5/head compared to the previous week.

The same can be said for hoggets weighing anywhere between 38kg and 45kg; prices for these lots are back at least €5/head if not more.

Some mart managers have also noticed a considerable drop in prices for ewes with lambs at foot, with prices for these lots back €10-20/head.

Cast ewes – particularly those fit for the factory – continue to hold firm in most places, with prices of up to €150/head being achieved for these lots. However, in some marts, the demand for these has dropped, with prices as low as €115/head being achieved for heavy ewes.

Baltinglass Mart

Baltinglass Mart held its weekly sheep sale on Saturday last, March 21.

There were a number of restrictions in place in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Sellers were only allowed to drop off their sheep; they were not allowed to enter the mart.

Buyers had to keep a minimum distance of 2m between each other. Furthermore, no children were allowed into the mart.

It was a smaller sale compared to the previous week, according to the mart manager, Tom Coleman. Hoggets weighing 45-50kg sold for €130-137/head.

Moreover, hoggets weighing 40-45kg sold for €112-130/head, with lighter hoggets weighing 30-40kg selling from €82-112/head.

Heavy ewes made up to €105/head.

Sample hogget prices:
  • 14 hoggets weighing 50kg sold for €137/head;
  • 11 hoggets weighing 49kg sold for €133/head;
  • Nine hoggets weighing 46kg sold for €130/head;
  • Four hoggets weighing 42kg sold for €112/head;
  • 15 hoggets weighing 38kg sold for €97/head;
  • 23 hoggets weighing 30kg sold for €82/head;
  • Two hoggets weighing 33kg sold for €81/head.

Dowra Mart

Dowra Mart held its weekly sheep sale on Friday last, March 20. There was a good entry of sheep despite the circumstances, with factory-fit hoggets and heavy ewes a strong trade, according to the mart manager Patsy Smith.

Factory hoggets made from €115/head up to a top price of €140/head. Forward store hoggets made from €90/head up to €110/head, with lighter pens making from €55/head up to €80/head.

Fat ewes made from €90/head up to a top price of €135/head, while feeding ewes made from €55/head to €80/head.

In-lamb ewes proved harder to sell and these lots made from €90/head up to €155/head, while ewes with lambs at foot made from €100/head up to a top price of €195/head.

Roscommon Mart

Roscommon Mart held its weekly sheep sale on Wednesday last, March 18. There was a smaller entry of sheep on offer compared to the previous week, according to the mart manager, Maura Quigley.

The top price on the day was €140/head for a pen of hoggets weighing 59kg. Factory-fit hoggets weighing upwards of 45kg sold for between €115/head and €120/head.

Butcher hoggets weighing upwards of 55kg made from €135/head up to €140/head.

Stag ewes made from €75/head up to €110/head, with prices for these lots down €20/head compared to the previous week.

Sample hogget prices:

  • 59kg: €140/head;
  • 56.8kg: €140/head;
  • 55.3kg: €135/head;
  • 48.7kg: €118/head;
  • 48.7kg: €117/head.

Carnew Mart

Over 1,000 sheep were on offer at Carnew Mart on Thursday last, March 19. This was a considerable drop from 2,000 that were on offer the previous week.

However, in saying that, there was much stronger trade last week compared to the week before, with hogget prices up €10/head, according to the mart manager, David Quinn.

Hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg sold for €135-140/head. Whereas, the week before, these lots made from €125-130/head.

There was a good trade for heavy ewes, with plenty of interest for these lots. A top price of €150/head was achieved in this section.

There were just over 100 lots of ewes with lambs at foot on offer. Ewes with one lamb at foot sold for €140-170/head. Whereas, ewes with two lambs at foot sold for €180-220/head.

David said that these lots were back as much as €10-20/head on previous weeks. He noted that due to the coronavirus outbreak that not as many farmers – that would normally be interested in buying these lots – were going to the mart.

Sample hogget prices:

  • 25 hoggets weighing 58kg sold for €140/head;
  • 32 hoggets weighing 52kg sold for €139/head;
  • 67 hoggets weighing 48kg sold for €135/head;
  • 25 hoggets weighing 45kg sold for €126/head;
  • 25 hoggets weighing 43kg sold for €117/head;
  • 30 hoggets weighing 39kg sold for €108/head.

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