Specialist fatstock sales have enjoyed a rip-roaring trade over the past few weeks and the trend has continued in recent days.
Record prices and sale averages are being reported across the country as the mood ringside is on a high.
A strengthening beef price, combined with a tightening of supply, is helping nearly all classes of stock see increased prices again this week.
The trade for heifers stepped up another gear this week, with an average price increase of 4c/kg or €20/head on a 500kg heifer.
Reports from mart managers is that apart from fatstock sales, the overall average quality of animal coming out for sale has dropped in recent weeks.
With a tightening supply of those top-quality lots, it is putting more competition in the market for lesser-quality stock, as buyers try to secure numbers.
This is reflected in the MartBids Database this week, with the bottom third of stock jumping by more than double the average price increase.
The price differential between the bottom third and the average for heifer prices now sits at just 30c/kg.
Looking back at early August, this price differential was almost double (56c/kg)what it is currently at, showing just how tight prime cattle numbers are in marts.
It means the average 400kg to 500kg heifer at €2.49/kg is making from €996/head at the lower end of the weight band up to €1,245/head for heifers up to 500kg.
Those from 500kg to 600kg are averaging €2.62/kg (€1,310/head to €1,572/head), while heifers over the 600kg mark are averaging €2.68/kg, with fatstock sales likely boosting this price somewhat.
The overall bullock trade is on par with last week, but heavy bullocks have edged up again on last week’s price. The average 600kg-plus bullock made €2.57/kg this week, up 6c/kg or €36/head on the previous seven days.
Looking at the top third of the trade, 600kg-plus bullocks made €2.83/kg, while those from 500kg to 600kg made €2.90/kg.
Throughput in marts was just 2% down on last week’s figures, as strong prices continue to slow the annual seasonal decline.
Clearance rates remain high with 92% recorded across the board over the past seven days.
With trade as strong as it is and winter feed costs at a record high, some farmers have done the sums and decided to sell on some stock at this stage to reduce the feed bill burden over the coming months.
The demand for cows remains extremely positive, despite a change in the type of cow that is coming to market, with more dairy cows coming on stream.
Still, where well-fleshed continental-type cows are on offer, there is a huge demand for them, with prices similar, if not outstripping the top prime cattle prices in some instances.
Northern Ireland buyer activity is underpinning this trade, with the top prices for cows ranging from €2.50/kg to €2.90/kg.