As the weanling trade kicks off over the next few weeks in marts around the country, we take a look at how cattle prices in August 2022 compared to cattle prices in August 2021.

Mart managers around the country are reporting that exporter activity has increased in recent weeks with very good demand coming from exporters specialising in continental EU markets.

There is also good demand for plainer-type stock, with a number of exporters now working on north African and Middle Eastern contracts.

The number of cattle exported in 2022 up to 6 August stands at 221,980 head, up over 20,000 head on 2021 live export figures, or 11%.

Most of this increase has come from calves, with a doubling of calf exports to the Netherlands in the first eight months of 2022.

There have also been over 4,000 extra cattle exported to Libya this year compared to 2021 and this figure is set to increase more over the autumn as further contracts are filled by Irish exporters.


There is a marked difference in the price performance of heavy cattle and weanlings at the moment, with heavy cattle faring better compared to last year. In the most popular weanling weight category of 300-400kg, bulls in the top-quality bracket are up €88/head on last year.

A top-quality 350kg weanling bull in marts over the last two weeks has been hitting €1,134/head or €3.24/kg compared to the same weanling hitting €1,046/head or €2.99/kg during the same period in 2021. That’s a difference of €88/head.

As we drop down through the quality grades, the price difference isn’t as large. The average bull weanling in this weight bracket is up €49/head or 14c/kg on last year.

The lower end, mostly made up of dairy-beef animals, are up just €28/head on last year’s trading.

For heavier bull weanlings the price difference in 2022 is a little larger, with top-quality bull weanlings in the 400-450kg bracket up €132/head. A top-quality 425kg bull weanling is hitting €1,335/head or €3.14/kg over the last couple of weeks compared to €1,203/head last year.

It’s a similar story in this weight bracket with regards price and quality, with a smaller differential coming through for lower-quality stock.

The average 425kg bull weanling is up €94/head while the poorer weanling is up €78/head on last year’s prices.

Some of this is due to the fact that heavier cattle are seen as not as big a risk as lighter cattle.

Some big bull feeders have also moved out earlier this year to purchase animals for bull beef systems.

These bigger finishers have hammered out factory deals and are in a better position in terms of purchasing power compared to smaller farmer feeders concentrating on lighter weanlings.

Weanling heifers

Weanling heifers are tracking close to the bulls in terms of price per kg. Top-quality weanling heifers in the most popular weight category of 300-400kg are hitting €1,106/head, up €116/head on last year.

Average heifers around 350kg are coming in at €948/head, up €77/head on the 2021 price of €871/head.

Similar to the bull weanlings, the difference gets smaller as you move down the quality grades.

In the lowest-quality grade, mostly made up of Aberdeen Angus and Hereford dairy x heifers, the 350kg heifer comes in at €808/head over the last number of weeks compared to €759/head for the same period in 2021.

Heavier weanling heifers haven’t seen the same price rises as other categories of stock. A top-quality 425kg weanling heifer is selling for €1,317/head or €3.10/kg over the last few weeks, up €63/head on the 2021 price.

Average heifer weanlings around 425kg are up just €36/head on last year, while poorer-quality heifers are up €68/head on last year. These figures would suggest that farmers selling weanlings should question the merits of going into heavier weights this year, especially if that extra weight is being driven by creep feed at €470/t.


Moving into heavier categories, the differences in prices get larger, predominantly driven by a better beef price in 2022. Top-quality 450kg heifers have been selling for €1,278/head over the last few weeks, up €144/head on the 2021 price.

Average-quality heifers at the same weight are up €113/head or 25c/kg.

Poorer-quality 450kg heifers, which again would be predominantly dairy-beef crosses, are up around €80/head on last year.

This type of animal is trading around €2.20/kg compared with a price of €2/kg last year.

Heifers around 600kg have seen one of the largest increases in the last 12 months, up €216/head compared to 2021.

Average heifers at the same weight are up €198/head. Top-quality heifers in this weight bracket are trading at €2.88/kg compared to €2.52/kg last year.


Heavier bullocks have seen a similar increase to heifers, with 400-500kg bullocks in the top third quality category coming in €104/head higher this year. Bullocks weighing 600kg in the same quality bracket are up €210/head.

The poorer-quality 600kg bullock is up €150/head on last year’s trading. Factory agents have been very active in marts for these heavy cattle in 2022.

There were fears that with a large drop off in NI demand for these forward stores the trade would suffer but southern agents appear to have stepped in and taken up the mantle.

Looking at prices across the board, farmers are really no better off in 2022, with increased input costs eroding any gains in the ring.

MartBids coverage

From next week, the Irish Farmers Journal will begin a new series called Weanling Watch which will cover special sales of weanlings on the MartBids pages over the peak weanling sales period over the next few months.

Our marts coverage will increase to four pages weekly from Thursday 1 September and will include our weekly MartBids analysis of thousands of real-time prices from marts around the country.

We will also be bringing you online mart reports on a daily basis on

What’s on in MartBids marts

  • Tuam Mart sheep sales have begun selling sheep in two rings on Tuesday evenings, with breeding ewe sale in one ring and a lamb sale in another ring. Both sales start at 5pm. A special evening show and sale of autumn-born weanlings will take place on Monday 22 August at 5.30pm. Enquiries to Tuam Mart 093 24353.
  • Clogher Valley Livestock Mart will hold a multibreed ram sale on Wedensday 31 August at 7pm. Enquiries to Robert Simpson on 00447929 759229.
  • Raphoe Mart will hold a special Donegal Suffolk breeders Suffolk ram sale on Saturday 3 September.
  • Aurivo Marts, Balla, will hold a special weanling show and sale on Tuesday 6 September at 10.30am.
  • Portumna Mart will start its evening weanling sales at 6pm on Monday 5 September.
  • Elphin Mart will hold a special bullock and heifer sale on Wednesday 24 August.