The presence of live exporters in mart sales has added another source of competition to the trade, with some marts reporting prices paid for ram lambs rising by anywhere from €5 to €10/head.

The general run of prices for heavier ram lambs weighing 48kg to 50kg has ranged from €215 to €230/head, with prices rising in isolated cases to upwards of €240/head.

The increase in activity has opened up a differential between ram and ewe lambs, but ewe lambs have also benefited from the lift in purchasing.

Top-quality lambs with a good killout potential and ranging from 43kg to 45kg have ranged in price from €200 to €208, with plainer-quality lots back to €190/head.

Similarly, lambs weighing 41kg to 42kg range anywhere from the mid-€180s to high-€190s, depending on quality and flesh cover.

Hogget numbers are following their seasonal decline, but some marts continue to handle significant numbers.

Heavier, fleshed hoggets weighing upwards of 50kg to 52kg are trading from €210 to €215, with ewe hoggets and heavier lots selling to €220 to €230/head.

The top-priced hoggets with breeding potential sold to €235 to €240/head.

The best prices paid for large-framed and well-conformed ewes range from €2.20/kg to €2.50/kg, with infrequent deals rising to €2.70/kg to €2.80/kg.

Lighter and crossbred ewes with a nice cover of flesh are trading from €2/kg to €2.15/kg, with lots lacking flesh and Scottish Blackface ewes trading from €1.50/kg to €1.80/kg.

Boner-type ewes are selling back to €1/kg, with only small numbers below this range.

The trade for ewes with lambs at foot is firm, with numbers gradually falling.

There is a large differential in prices depending on the age of ewes and strength of lambs.

Aged ewes with young lambs are trading from €200 for crossbred types to €250 to €280 per unit, while units with young ewes and quality lambs range from €300 to upwards of €350 per outfit.

Single-lamb lots range from €120 to €180 for hill and crossbred types, with continental types rising to €250 to €280.