The saying a rising tide lifts all boats is applicable of the sheep trade in recent weeks.

Factory prices continue to record upward momentum and this is inserting more life into the trade for all classes of sheep in mart sales.

Prices have increased by €3 to €6 on average this week, with some individual sales which missed out on the full extent of the price rise last week reporting prices lifting by as much as €10/head.

Significant variation still exists in prices depending on quality, but good-quality lambs are generally selling in a tight price range.

Quality lambs weighing 50kg to 55kg range in general from €162 to €170, with top-quality butcher or wholesale-type lambs and heavier lots selling from €172 to €174 and in isolated cases to as high as €175 to €177.

Prices paid for lambs weighing 48kg to 49kg are influenced by their kill-out potential, with top-quality lambs ranging from €158 to €166 and falling back to €150 for lots lacking flesh or plainer types.

Lambs weighing 44kg to 46kg are trading from the mid-€130s to the mid-€140s for forward stores and as high as €150 for fleshed types or for nice-quality ewe lambs.

Mart managers continue to report that they are benefitting from intense competition from agents and this is encouraging producers with well-fleshed lambs who are struggling to deal direct with factory agents to show lambs live and let agents fight it out.

Store lambs weighing 38kg to 39kg are trading from an average of €2.60/kg to €3/kg for good-quality Scottish Blackface and crossbred ram lambs, with the latter rising to €3.10/kg to €3.20/kg for lambs with a good frame and capable of carrying weight.

Well-presented lowland store lambs are capable of recording top prices of €3.50/kg and even higher in cases.

The ewe trade is finally starting to move upwards.

Prices for heavy ewes continue to range from €130 to €155 on average, with select lots of exceptional-quality lots rising to €170 and beyond.

Medium-sized fleshed ewes range from €100 to €120, with a firm demand for feeding ewes keeping a floor under the trade, while aged lighter-carcase ewes with an average cover of flesh are selling back to €80 and from €50 to €75 on average for Scottish Blackface ewes.