Heifers continue to trade at the top of the market, with €5.30/kg now being quoted at the top of the market for heifers.

Some larger suppliers have managed to squeeze €5.35/kg out of the market where bigger numbers are involved.

Bullocks continue to move at €5.25/kg, with larger suppliers having more bargaining power, with some getting bullocks away at the same price as heifers, while others have been able to get haulage and leeway on weights thrown into the mix.

Flat deals are still very popular, with €5.65/kg being paid for Aberdeen Angus heifers this week.

All of the big four processors - Foyle, Dawn, ABP and Kepak - have all commenced killing for the Chinese market, but most are playing their cards close to their chest in terms of Chinese market bonuses, with some quoting different base prices for eligible cattle.

Factories remain very anxious for finished in-spec cattle this week, with a few agents even taking to the phone over the weekend to check in with finishers as to what was coming down the line.

Young bulls

The top price in the young bull market is €5.30/kg for U grading bulls, with €5.10/kg on the table for R grading bulls.

The young bull kill has seen a big increase in the opening weeks of 2023, with 3,816 young bulls killed last week.

O and P grading bulls are being bought at €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg. Under-16-month bulls are being bought at €5.15/kg to €5.25/kg base price on the grid.

Cows

P+3 cows are working off €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg, with O grading cows coming in at €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg.

R grading cows are generally being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg, with U grading cows now moving to €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg.

Lots of deals are on the table to get good cows, with R grading cows being bought at U grading prices in some instances.

Increase in cows

Recent data released by the Department of Agriculture shows that there has been a massive increase in the number of cows being purchased for slaughter in marts.

The data shows that in 2022, there was 130,421 animals aged over 36 months slaughtered within 30 days of being purchased in marts. This was up from 97,744 in 2021 and a more-than-doubling of the figure of 63,243 head in 2019.

There has been a big push in recent years of factory agents sourcing cows and other cattle for direct slaughter, with many farmers selling smaller numbers of cows in marts seeing better value in the mart ring as opposed to going to the factory.