Live exporters continue to drive the mart trade this week, with weanlings bulls in particular seeing a very positive weeks trading.

Exporters are clipping at each others heels, with a number of them urging marts to put on special spring weanling sales in order to encourage farmers out with weanlings such is the demand for stock.

Up to €4/kg was paid for Belgian Blue weanling bulls this week in farmers’ yards, with exporters filling European jobs particularly over the last few weeks.

The news that a number of Irish live exporters were in Turkey last weekend having talks with importers about filling the contracts issued by the Turkish government earlier this month is positive.

A number of Irish exporters are now gearing up for exporting weanlings to Turkey later in 2024.

Exporters are also actively buying for north Africa, with the Algerian market being the focus for a number of them. Curzon Livestock Exporters is actively seeking slaughter-fit bulls for a boat in early March.

Breeding heifers

The breeding heifer trade continues to exceed all expectations with top-quality breeding heifers being rewarded with some very fancy prices this week in marts.

Despite all the negativity around sucklers, farmers are continuing to pay top dollar for the high-end heifers.

Elphin Mart had over 100 heifers at its special sale of last Wednesday. Trade was brisk, with a number of farmer buyers, feedlot buyers and NI customers in attendance.

Top-quality heavy heifers over 600kg hit between €3.50/kg and €3.90/kg, with lighter heifers in the 500kg to 600kg weight bracket a similar trade.

Lesser-quality heifers in the 500kg to 600kg weight bracket came in at €3.20/kg to €3.50/kg.

Taking a look at this week’s Martbids analysis table, it was the weanling bulls that were the highlight of the trade.

The big numbers this week were in the 300kg to 400kg weight bracket and the top-quality weanling in this weight category came in at €3.63/kg. That’s €1,379/head for a 380kg weanling.

Average-quality weanlings in the same weight bracket weren’t far behind, with the 300kg to 400kg average weanling coming in at €3.12/kg - a similar price to last week.

There’s a gap of over €1/kg between the top- and bottom-quality weanlings, which transfers into over €360/head on a 350kg weanling.

Lighter dairy-cross Angus and Hereford bulls in the 200kg to 300kg weight bracket came in at €2.49/kg this week, a similar trade to last week.

It was another pretty steady week in the bullock and heifer rings. Average-quality bullocks saw some improvement across all weight categories, with heavy bullocks also holding in price despite the factory negativity.

Higher numbers are coming out in the calf rings around the country, with some very big sales down south.

A huge gap has opened up between the good-quality calf over 50kg and the lower-quality calves under 50kg.

Many of these lower-quality calves struggled to find customers this week. For more, see page 64.