The mart trade is holding pretty steady this week, with good weather in the west encouraging a few more of the cautious customers out.

Numbers continue to drop, with some small marts over the last week or so. Generally, numbers will stay pretty tight for the next few months until the first of the weanling sales begin at the end of July.

Heavy cattle and poorer-quality stock are still probably the two categories of stock that are under the most pressure.

Reduced factory demand has meant slaughter-fit cattle have fallen back in line with factory prices. The cull cow trade is probably the most solid of all, with good-quality cows still crossing the €2.50/kg barrier.

Appetite for parlour cows and poorer-quality crossbred cows has waned a little in the last three weeks, with some thinner cows struggling to get into €1/kg to €1.20/kg this week in some marts.

Taking a look at this week’s Martbids analysis table, we see that there are no huge movers in terms of up or down.

It is dominated by red arrows, which means trade is back a shade, but, in a lot of cases, this movement is to the tune of 1c to 5c/kg, which is small in the overall scale of the trade.

The heifer trade has held firm, with the top quality 400kg to 500kg heifer still coming in at €3.06/kg.

Meanwhile, 600kg-plus heifers are coming in at €3.15/kg, back 5c/kg on last week.

Average bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg category are working off €2.71/kg this week, while poorer-quality dairy-cross bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg weight category are selling at €2.21/kg.

The weanling trade saw another pretty solid week. Some of the shine has come off the top-quality heifers, with these all seeing a reduction in price this week.

Bull weanlings in the 300kg to 400kg category came in at €3.73/kg this week, a similar trade to last week. Lighter bulls in the 200kg to 300kg weight bracket hit €3.90/kg this week.

There continues to be a mixed reaction to the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme in marts around the country.

While over 20,000 have applied to the scheme, a lot of smaller operators, particularly in the west, have opted not to.

Concerns around extra paperwork, joining the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme and the five-year commitment to keep cows on their farms have all been raised.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Gortatlea Mart manager Maurice Brosnan said: “We have a lot of customers who aren’t joining the scheme. Some of the best weanling producers I have aren’t joining it and that’s a huge shame.

“I had a great weanling producer in here last week that got close to €4/kg for some of his weanlings. He’s been suckling all his life, with a focus on producing real top-end Charolais weanlings and he’s going to get out of sucking altogether.

“He says they they don’t want his good cattle anymore and you’d have to agree with him.

“I think the star requirement should be eased back a little to allow more farmers comply with it. There was supposed to be less red tape with the new schemes, but, as far as I can see, there is more red tape.”