At a time of year when calf numbers begin to decline, a number of mart managers have seen numbers pick up lately and are predicting the peak of calf sales to run a fraction later this year.

This comes as the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation calf price database shows calf numbers increased by 12% over the last week.

Cashel Mart manager Alison De Vere Hunt said: “Farmers I’ve spoken to calved later and aren’t finished calving yet so we could see calf trade go a bit later into May this year or we could have a strong April.”

Bandon Mart saw almost 2,100 calves go through its premises for the second week running and manager Seán Dennehy said he could see those numbers holding for the next fortnight.

There was an improvement in trade, especially for lighter-quality calves at the west Cork venue.

After almost 10% of calves sold at €5/head last week, he said: “We had less than 1% under €15 this week and we had a near full clearance. That lift of €10 to €20 was seen across the middle range of traditional beef calves too and shipping calves sold from €30 to €80.”

Calf exports have ramped up, with 15,911 calves exported last week. A reduction in supply of 4% for Friesian bull calves over the week, along with the Dutch market kicking into gear, resulted in prices stabilising compared to other weeks. Calves between three and six weeks of age made €53/head, back €2/head on the week before.