The last few weeks of 2023 will go down as positive ones for the mart trade, with a very solid trade being reported by mart managers this week.

Numbers have held up well in a lot of marts given the time of year, with big numbers of cows still moving through marts in the south of the country in particular.

Dairy farmers with one eye on nitrates are offloading any non-performing stock before 1 January.

This is mostly cull cows, but some beef cattle are also being taken of the books to avoid any extra stock on the system.

There was a fear that this offloading could affect the trade, but given the demand there is out there at the moment for finished cattle in particular, the extra numbers is having no material impact on the trade.

Taking a look at this week’s Martbids analysis, it paints a generally positive picture of this week’s mart trade.

In the bullock rings, it was the heavy bullocks that fared out best. Heavy bullocks over 600kg in the top-quality category are coming in at €3.01/kg this week - a similar trade to last week.

Average bullocks were also up a shade to €2.74/kg. Lighter bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg category were also a similar trade to last week, with top-end lighter bullocks coming in at €2.91/kg.

Poorer-quality dairy-cross-beef stock have also held steady in the last week, with more appetite from factory feedlots and large feeders for Hereford and Aberdeen Angus store cattle this week.

In the heifer rings, heavy heifers also saw a big increase, with top-end heifers coming up 16c/kg last week to €3.18/kg.

Average heifers also saw price increases, with those in the 500kg to 600kg weight bracket coming in at €2.66/kg this week.

Heavier dairy-cross heifers also saw an improvement this week, with heavy Aberdeen Angus and Hereford heifers up 13c/kg this week to €2.31/kg.

In the weanling rings, heavy weanlings had another good week, with top-end 400kg to 450kg bull calves coming in at €3.18/kg this week.

Average weanling heifers in the 400kg to 450kg weight bracket came in at €2.79/kg.

Poorer-quality lighter heifers were back a little this week, with the bottom third of heifer weanlings in the 300kg to 400kg weight bracket coming in at €2.21/kg.

Live exports

The year 2023 will also go down as a very positive one for live exports, which are currently running 13% ahead of 2022 levels for the same period in 2023.

The current live export figure stands at 316,514 head, with a number of boats due to depart with live animals before end of the year.

One boat is scheduled to load next week with a load of bulls destined for Libya. Another load of dairy stock destined for Algeria is also expected to depart before the end of the year.

The outlook for the live export trade in 2024 remains positive. A northern-based exporter is currently assembling a load of weanlings for the Middle East and it is hoped that this will depart with another load early in 2024. All eyes will be on our ability to export big numbers in spring 2024.