The cold conditions this week could do nothing to deter the hot and heavy trade ringside, with both heifer and steer prices seeing an increase almost across the board over the past seven days.

Heavy cattle remain the driving force behind the strong prices and with beef processors failing to get a grip on factory prices over the past two weeks, it seems to have given more confidence to finishers that the numbers simply are not there in the coming weeks for prices to fall.

Throughput in marts is also well up year on year, with the MartBids Database showing numbers running 12% above 2022 levels so far for the month of March.

Official figures from the Department of Agriculture have shown mart throughput in January was up by more than 19,000 head or 23.9% compared with 2022 levels and some 37% higher than the five-year average.


In the bullock ring, strong demand resulted in those weighing over 600kg increasing by 6c/kg this week to €2.96/kg, with the top third up 3c/kg on the week to €3.26/kg.

However, it was the bottom third of stock that saw the greatest price lift, up 10c/kg to €2.66/kg.

There was less movement in price for bullocks from 400kg to 500kg and from 500kg to 600kg, with prices averaging €2.67/kg and €2.82/kg respectively.

Having dropped by 24c/kg last week, lighter bullocks from 350kg to 400kg recovered 12c/kg of this over the last week of trading. It means the average price sits at €2.52/kg, while the top third in this category made €3.08/kg on average, up 15c/kg on last week.


Heavy heifes are also up on the week, to the tune of 10c/kg for those over 600kg, bringing them to an average price of €3.01/kg.

The top third of stock are up by the same margin to €3.38/kg.

However, again, it was the bottom third of cattle that recorded the greatest price increase, up 11c/kg to €2.77/kg.

The price differential between the bottom third and average now sits at 24c/kg, which is as low as it has been in a long time.

It is usually an indication that numbers are very tight in marts when the differential is low, especially once it drops below 30c/kg.

Looking at figures for the same time last year, the price gap was 36c/kg between the same two groups of stock.


Having fallen by 6c/kg last week, the average cow price has completely recovered over the past seven days, back to an average price of €2.15/kg.

The top end of suckler cows are still commanding over €3/kg in most cases, while the best of the dairy cows are making from €2.20/kg to €2.35/kg in some instances.

Cows that will take feeding are running from €2.50/kg to €2.70/kg for suckler types, while dairy feeders are moving around the €2/kg mark.

Lighter and poorer-framed dairy types are making up to €1.55/kg.

For farmers with small numbers of cattle, the mart remains the best option for selling cows.