Mart managers are reporting the mart trade as a little easier in the last few days across the country.

Plain store cattle have fared the worst, with dairy-cross cattle a lot easier bought in the last three weeks compared with April and May.

A shortage of grass and a wavering in factory price hasn’t helped confidence for long-keep cattle and this is affecting the trade.

The weanling trade is still very strong, especially for bull weanlings, with exporters underpinning demand. A number of exporters had visitors in the country over the last two weeks with a view to securing contracts ahead of the busy autumn period of weanling sales.

The Shorthorn Express departed Irish shores at the weekend sailing for the Middle East with 2,500 cattle on board. It’s understood that it will be returning for a load to north Africa in the next two weeks.

Grass scarcity

Kilkenny mart’s George Candler said: “The scarcity of grass has not been helped by the unseasonal cold weather and this is one of the reasons that there has been a significant reduction in the price of plain store bullocks and heifers.

“On the positive front, fancy continental bullocks and heifers saw prices range from €2.80/kg to €3.60/kg at last Thursday’s sale in Kilkenny.

“Beef animals also sold well, with beef-type bullocks ranging from €2.70/kg to €3.20/kg.”

Ciaran Lynch reported good demand in Elphin Mart on Monday night for forward stores, with a few northern customers still active.

Good-quality bullocks around the 600kg to 650kg mark were crossing the €2,000/head barrier, with quality bullocks all selling for over €3/kg.

He also reported a big demand for weanlings, with exporters already enquiring as to when the special weanling sales will be happening.

“A lot of farmers around here have already sold their autumn-born weanlings, so numbers could be light for the next few weeks,” Ciaran said.

Taking a look at this week’s Irish Farmers Journal Martbids analysis, we see that it was the plainer cattle across all categories that saw the biggest drops this week.

Poorer-quality slaughter-fit bullocks were the only exception, with these bullocks holding steady for the week.

Average-quality bullocks saw less of a drop, with better-quality bullocks holding steady across all weight categories.

Better-quality heifers were more solid, with top-end 500kg to 600kg heifers coming in at €3.04/kg this week.

In the weanling rings, it was a mixed trade, with better-quality 300kg to 400kg weanlings continuing to improve, coming in at a very high €3.79/kg this week.

Average-quality bulls in the same weight bracket were back 10c/kg this week to €3.12/kg.

Heifer weanlings were back this week across all weight and quality categories, except the heavy weanling heifers weighing between 400kg and 450kg. These met very good demand, with average heifers in this weight bracket coming in at €2.98/kg this week, a lift of 25c/kg on the previous week.

Top-quality heifer weanlings in the 300kg to 400kg weight bracket were back 15c/kg this week to €3.13/kg.