At long last, grass does seem to be growing, with this week's milder weather not only bulking up the green stuff but also adding value to breeding sheep sold through the live ring.

Last week, most flockmasters were desperately seeking shelter for lambs when freezing rain and bitterly cold winds took their toll on young lives, but such has been the improvement in the weather, that farmers are now actively seeking grazing stock, with those selling hoggs and gimmers with lambs at foot benefitting most.

At Hexham and Northern Marts' sale on Tuesday, at Hexham, both hoggs and gimmers with lambs increased by £10-£20 per life on the year, or £20-£30 per outfit and older ewes with lambs were not far behind those values.

Top price was £270 paid for Mule hoggs with single Texel cross lambs at foot, with Texel cross hoggs with single Beltex lambs selling to £260. And, five-crop Texel cross ewes with twin-born Suffolk lambs were up to £264 – for a pen of 10.

Furthermore, with grass growth set to flourish, Hexham mart auctioneer, John Walton, believes prices will remain firm for the foreseeable future even with the increased numbers expected at future sales, on the back of record breaking prime sales in recent weeks.

Values were up a similar amount at Harrison and Hetherington's Borderway Mart at Carlisle, on Monday, where auctioneer David Fearon said commercial outfits were making £120-£130 per life with many flockmasters witnessing increases of £15-£20 per head.

"A lot of farmers have sold all their yeld hoggs and with the optimism in the sheep sector, they are now looking to buy breeding sheep with lambs at foot," he said.

With this week's milder weather, Mr Fearon added that farmers are looking to sell and buy.

"We had an unbelievable show and sale on Monday with more quality sheep forward and more active buyers now that grass is starting to grow. There was more than 1200 head forward and they sold to £190 per life for a Beltex hogg with Beltex cross lamb at foot, with Mule hoggs with lambs selling to £130."

Further north at Aberdeen and Northern Marts' Thainstone Centre, deputy head of livestock and sheep auctioneer, Colin Slessor, said trade had improved significantly on the week, purely as a result of the improved weather and increased grass growth.

Mule hoggs with single-born Texel and Beltex cross lambs were selling for up to £120 per life, with most ranging from £110-£118, which is similar on the year, but grass growth is back.

"It's all down to the amount of feed that's available and this year, grass has been slow to come because it has been so cold. We've had the rain, we just need some heat now," he added pointing out that while numbers coming forward have been slow, trade has been bolstered by the firm's online trading facility which attracts more buyers.

In contrast, prime sheep values have in the main slipped this week on the back of increased spring lambs coming forward – with the exception of a few markets – and the holy month of Ramadan, which came to an end on Wednesday.

On Monday, some 16,578 new season lambs sold through GB markets to average 350.2p per kg, which is down 5.9p on the week, with a further 18,441 hoggs cashing in at 292.0p, up 3.0p. Cull ewes also slipped, by £5.03 to £97.88 for 11,287.

Average prices fell further on Tuesday with 9507 spring lambs cashing in at 331.5p, down 25.4p on the previous seven days, while the 13,000 old season types fell 14.2p to balance out at 274.2p. The 6758 cull ewes sold throughout Scotland, England and Wales averaged £86.53, down £15.06 per head on the week.