After a few weeks of steady price rises, the cull cow trade has eased off a little this week, with some of the very high prices for cows a little less common in the last seven days.

Wholesalers, factory agents and Northern Ireland factory agents had driven the trade over the last few weeks.

The top of the market had been at €3/kg, but this has cooled off slightly in recent days.

Industry insiders are suggesting that VL product is moving a little slower than it was and this could be having an impact on the cull cow trade.

Friesian cull cows are trading from €1/kg to €2.30/kg, depending on weight and flesh cover.

Continental cows are trading around the €1.60/kg to €2.20/kg mark for lighter store types, while heavy fleshed types are making anywhere up to €2.80/kg for well-fleshed young cows.

There was some very big sales of bullocks and heifers in a number of marts this week, with the special Monaghan day sales in Mohill attracting a lot of western continental cattle.

Marts numbers are also holding very well down south, with 560 cattle in Kilkenny last Thursday.

Auctioneer George Candler reported a very fast trade, with both bullocks and heifers selling in record time such was the trade. This was coupled with a 98% clearance rate.

The calf trade continues to be very strong, with some very big prices paid for early calves in southern marts over the last seven days. Numbers are still low in a lot of marts and it will be the end of February before we get a real handle on where the calf trade will settle at.

There does appear to be some issues with shipping capacity for lorries transporting calves and all eyes will be on the export of calves and what effect any capacity issues has on the trade.

The live export market for older cattle continues to be very strong.

Viastar, the northeast-based livestock export company, is back in the market again for bulls for Middle Eastern and north African markets.

They are currently buying continental bulls ranging in weight from 300kg to 800kg, while also sourcing Friesian bulls and bullocks in the 250kg to 500kg weight range.

Taking a look at this week’s Martbids analysis table, we see that bullocks were the highlight of the trade, with lighter store bullocks in the 350kg to 400kg weight bracket up by as much as 22c/kg.

Heavy bullocks also saw price increases, with top-end bullocks over 600kg coming in at €3.17/kg this week, an increase of 8c/kg on last week.

The heifer rings weren’t as positive this week, but top-end heifers weighing over 600kg still came in at €3.16/kg this week.

Lighter average quality heifers in the 400kg to 500kg weight bracket came in at €2.74/kg this week.

In the weanling rings, top-end bull weanlings in the 300kg to 400kg weight bracket came in at €3.10/kg this week, while top-end weanling heifers in the same weight bracket came in at €3.44/kg.

The bottom third of heifer weanlings saw some of the biggest lifts this week, with 200kg to 300kg dairy-cross heifers coming in at €2.50/kg.