It is hard to remember a time when the demand for short-keep and factory-fit stock was greater than it currently is ringside.

Since the week before Christmas, heavy bullocks are up 18c/kg or €126/head on a 700kg animal.

Numbers of finished cattle remain extremely tight, as factory agents and Northern Ireland buyers battle it out to secure numbers in marts across the country.

There has also been an increase in the number of stock being purchased online in recent weeks, with buyers using the technology to give them a presence at more sales as they scurry to secure supplies.

The number of heavy continentals and Angus bullocks that are commanding over €3/kg is now becoming the norm rather than the exception. Mart managers are reporting a huge trade for these types of stock.

The numbers coming forward for sale are starting to build after the Christmas break, but demand still outstrips supply.

However, compared with last year, numbers have increased by a greater proportion this year, as some farmers look to make the most of a buoyant trade.

This is despite the fact that throughout this week they will have been hampered somewhat due to hazardous road conditions, but by the end of the week, things should be back to normal.

For those with tight supplies of fodder in the yard, offloading at least some numbers now has to be considered at this stage.

Sale clearances are expectedly high given where the trade is at, with an overall clearance rate of 95% recorded in the MartBids Database over the past seven days.


Lighter steers have seen the smallest rise in price in recent weeks, as many finishers continue to operate with stock 70 to 100 days from finishing as there is more clarity in the market within this timeframe.

Looking at year-on-year figures, store bullocks from 400kg to 500kg are up 33c/kg on this time last year or almost €150/head on the average 450kg animal.

At heavier weights, this price increase is much greater, with those over 600kg up by 43c/kg on the same time last year or by €280/head on a 650kg bullock.

In fact, on a price-per-kilo basis, the bottom third of stock are making more this week than the average-quality animal the same week last year.


Heavy heifers over 600kg averaged €2.86/kg this week, while the top third made €3.13/kg.

Looking at the same week last year, these two figures were €2.43/kg and €2.65/kg respectively. This means an average increase of 45c/kg or almost €300/head on this time last year on a 650kg heifer.

The average price for 500kg to 600kg heifers was €2.78/kg this week, while those from 400kg to 500kg averaged €2.62/kg.

Again, looking at last year’s figures, those at lighter weights have seen a smaller increase than heavier heifers. That being said, prices are still running 36c/kg ahead of the same time last year or €160/head above 2022 levels for the average-quality 450kg heifer.