Mart sale entries have reduced to a low level in recent weeks, but mart managers continue to report keen demand for top-quality continental stores.

Martbids records show top-quality continental heifers and bullocks selling in excess of €3/kg, but a wider differential has opened up in recent times between continental cattle and dairy-bred stock.

The tables detail a price analysis by breed for lighter store cattle and heavier heifers and bullocks.

Prices for forward stores and slaughter-fit stock are tracking deadweight prices, with very little movement recently.

The differential between top-quality Angus-cross cattle and continental cattle is at its lowest level for slaughter-fit animals, helped by keen demand from factory agents and specialist beef finishers.

Cows continue to record a good average price, particularly for the time of year.

The average price for Limousin-cross cows was recorded at €2.47/kg, while Charolais-cross cows were not far behind at €2.39/kg, with Simmental cows in the region of €2.20/kg for heavier beef-bred cows and around the €2/kg mark for dairy-crosses.

The average price for Angus-cross cows over the last week was €2.12/kg, similar to Hereford-cross cows at €2.08/kg.

Fleshed Friesian cows are also a solid trade, with average prices running at €1.68/kg to €1.82/kg.

The top third of Friesian cows continues to sell just above the €2/kg mark.

There is a wide differential between top- and poor-quality Friesians, with the bottom third at around €1.20/kg and light-carcase cows selling back to 80c/kg to €1/kg.

Mart managers comment that the number of good-quality cattle appearing in sales is becoming increasingly tighter and replaced by higher numbers of dairy-cross stock. This is stemming from a decline in suckler cow numbers.