The cattle trade in marts has seen a slight lift this week, with heifers and bullock being the highlight of the trade.

A turn in factory sentiment for finished cattle quotes didn’t have any impact on last week’s mart trade, with both factories and big feeders all hungry for stock.

One thing that probably did help last week’s trade was numbers. A number of mart managers reported a lot lower numbers in the last two weeks.

Cork Marts’ Sean Leahy said: “We saw a lot lower numbers coming out in the last two weeks than we would normally have, with some sales running at 50% of what we would have had last year.

“Sellers seem to be holding until the weather improves to bring out their cattle,” he said.

It was a similar story in Kilkenny Mart last week, with auctioneer George Candler saying: “We actually had a few customers who would have bought more cattle had the cattle been in the mart.

“This probably helped the trade a little, but I’d rather see a steady flow of cattle during the spring than a big glut when the weather improves.”

Balla Mart in Mayo had close to 1,000 cattle through its rings last Saturday, with demand steady for all types.

Breeding heifers were an exceptional trade, with €2,950 paid for a 600kg Limousin heifer for bulling. Balla manager Michael Nolan said: “The trade has held up very well given the weather that we have had.

“There is still lots of demand for quality cattle, with the plainer types maybe a little less in the last two weeks.”

Live exporters continue to be very active for all types of bull weanlings, with a number of jobs currently on the go for plainer-quality weanlings and top-quality weanlings.

Taking a look at this week’s Irish Farmers Journal Martbids analysis table, we see that lighter bullocks took the biggest lift in price this week, with top-quality bullocks in the 350kg to 400kg weight bracket seeing a rise of 18c/kg this week.

Plainer bullocks also saw more demand, with average bullocks in the same weight category coming in at €2.76/kg.

Bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg weight range also saw an improvement in price, with average-quality bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg weight bracket up 12c/kg to €2.86/kg.

More grass buyers in the south at ringsides towards the end of last week is driving on the price of these lighter bullocks.

In the heifer rings, it was a similar story, with lighter heifers seeing the biggest improvement in trade.

Top-quality heifers in the 350kg to 400kg weight bracket were up 8c/kg to €3.26/kg this week.

Heavy heifers over 600kg also saw an improvement, with top-quality heifers in the 600kg-plus weight category coming in 4c/kg higher this week to €3.19/kg.

The weanling rings saw steady demand, with average-quality bulls in the popular 300kg to 400kg weight category coming in 11c/kg higher this week to €3.36/kg.

Poorer-quality dairy beef weanlings also saw an improvement, with 300kg to 400kg dairy bred weanlings coming in at €2.86/kg. Top-quality heifer weanlings were up 8c/kg to €3.60/kg.