Sheep marts: Steady trade all round prior to closure of livestock marts

On Tuesday, March 24, the news broke that all livestock marts across the country were to suspend trading in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement, which was made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, comes as a major blow to both cattle and sheep farmers who had planned to sell stock over the coming weeks.

Marts across the country had taken measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. These include: ‘drop-and-go’ systems; buyer-and-seller-only systems; signing in; and social distancing ringside.

However, before the decision to suspend trading was made, a number of sheep sales took place, as usual, on Saturday, March 21, Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24.

These marts include: Headford Mart; Raphoe Mart; Blessington Mart; and Kilkenny Mart.

Despite the restrictions that were in place for these sales, mart managers reported a steady trade all round. However, prices for butcher and factory-fit hoggets were back up to €5/head on the previous week.

Butcher hoggets, in general, made up to €140/head. Whereas, factory fit-hoggets made anywhere from €115/head up to €135/head.

Forward store hoggets made from €90/head up to €110/head in most livestock marts.

There was a good demand for cast ewes, with some marts reporting prices of up to €170/head for heavy ewes.

In general, prices for these lots ranged between €130/head and €150/head.

Ewes with lambs at foot made anywhere from €150/head up to €270/head – depending on the type and quality.

Raphoe Mart

There was a good entry of sheep at Raphoe Mart on Monday, March 23. There was a strong trade all round, according to the mart manager, Anne Harkin.

Heavy ewes – that were fit for the factory – were a lively trade, with a top price of €185/head achieved on the day in this section.

In general, prices for cast ewes ranged between €70/head and €173/head.

Butcher hoggets weighing 60kg made up to €140/head. Whereas, factory-fit hoggets weighing 50kg sold for €135/head.

Ewes with one lamb at foot made €120-170/head. Moreover, ewes with two lambs at foot made €170-270/head.

Sample hogget prices:

  • 35-40kg: €90-110/head;
  • 40-45kg: €110-120/head;
  • 45-50kg: €120-135/head;
  • 50-60kg: €130-140/head.

Blessington Mart

Some 810 sheep were on offer at Blessington Mart on Tuesday, March 24. Prices for all types of hoggets were back €5/head according to the mart manager, John Doyle.

However, prices for cast ewes, in-lamb ewes and ewes with lambs at foot were on par with the previous week.

Butcher hoggets made up to €128/head; whereas, factory-fit hoggets made up to €117/head.

Sample prices:

  • Butcher hoggets: €117-128/head;
  • Factory-fit hoggets: €104-117/head;
  • Store hoggets: €69-100/head;
  • Heavy ewes: €115-128/head;
  • Feeding ewes: €70-104/head;
  • In-lamb ewes: €120-195/head.

Headford Mart

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

Butcher hoggets made up to €140/head on the day, according to the mart manager, Joe Wynne.

The top price on the day was €140/head for a pen of hoggets weighing 56kg.

Ewes with lambs at foot made €150-202/head. Cull ewes made up to €95/head on the day.

Sample hogget prices:

  • 13 hoggets weighing 38kg sold for €90/head;
  • 10 hoggets weighing 46kg sold for €112/head;
  • Seven hoggets weighing 48kg sold for €117/head;
  • 12 hoggets weighing 48kg sold for €117/head;
  • Seven hoggets weighing 48.5kg sold for €118/head;
  • Eight hoggets weighing 50kg sold for €122/head;
  • 13 hoggets weighing 53kg sold for €127/head.

Kilkenny Mart

Over 200 sheep were on offer at Kilkenny Mart on Monday, March 23.

There was a solid trade all round, with a top price of €142/head for a pen of hoggets weighing 55kg, according to the mart manager, Michael Lynch.

There was a good trade for cast ewes, with prices for these lots peaking at €135/head, which was similar to the previous week.

Butcher hoggets sold for €130-142/head, while factory-fit hoggets sold for €103-130/head on the day.

Sample hogget prices:

  • 10 hoggets weighing 56kg sold for €133/head;
  • Eight hoggets weighing 54kg sold for €134/head;
  • 10 hoggets weighing 51kg sold for €130/head;
  • 25 hoggets weighing 50kg sold for €130/head;
  • 11 hoggets weighing 49kg sold for €118/head;
  • Eight hoggets weighing 45kg sold for €115/head.

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