The weather has started to affect the cattle trade, with traditional grass buyers unable to move given the situation that ground conditions are in across the country.

Another wet day on Wednesday this week has undone any drying that took place earlier in the week and turnout is still some distance away on many farms.

Pressure on silage stocks and rising levels of slurry in tanks has meant some buyers have opted out of the market until the weather improves again.

There had been some level of grass buying in the last three weeks, where there was shed capacity on farms to hold the animals in advance of turnout.

Many of these buyers were opting to buy when the weather was still difficult, as the thinking was that when the weather does improve and the grass buyers move in, the cattle trade will kick on.

Poorer-quality Friesian and dairy-cross Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle have been hardest hit.

These cattle would be grass buyers’ cattle, so a swing in the supply-demand balance has led to the current drop in price.

Three four-day weeks in a row has also meant factories have been able to source enough finished cattle on farms and their buying activity in marts has tempered off a little in the last seven to 10 days.

Comparing this week’s Irish Farmers Journal Martbids analysis table with the table from three weeks ago, we see that average-quality 500kg to 600kg heifers have dropped from €3.03/kg in mid-March to €2.87/kg last week - a drop of €88/head.

Poorer-quality bullocks have taken the biggest hit, with 350kg to 400kg dairy-cross bullocks back 22c/kg or €82/head in the last three weeks.

Taking a look at this week’s table, we see that the bullock trade took the biggest hit.

Top-end bullocks in the 500kg to 600kg category were back 11c/kg or €60/head in the last seven days.

Lighter bullocks in the 350kg to 400kg weight bracket were also back by 10c/kg on last week’s prices.

Poorer-quality dairy beef-crosses in the 350kg to 400kg weight bracket dropped back to €2.04/kg last week, the lowest price seen this spring.

Heifers also had a mixed week, with top-quality heavy heifers over 600kg back 10c/kg to €3.15/kg in the last week.

Lighter poorer-quality dairy beef-cross heifers were back 9c/kg to €2.34/kg this week.

Weanling trade

The weanling trade is the only light in the cattle trade at the moment, with exporters still buying a lot of weanlings in marts around the country.

The trade for top-quality weanlings in the popular 300kg to 400kg weight bracket came in unchanged this week at €3.80/kg.

Heavier weanlings did see a reduction in price, with less buying activity from some feeders in the last two weeks seeing a slight reduction in prices being paid.

Heavy heifer weanlings were also back in price this week on the back of reduced demand from grass buyers. Organic weanlings are also in high demand, with over €4/kg being paid for organic weanlings at a few special sales in the last week.