It’s been another really steady week in terms of the mart trade. Numbers are still strong, but these big sales are being met with solid demand for all types of cattle.

Good weather has encouraged more grass buyers to the ringside and grass cattle in the 400kg to 500kg category have all seen positive movement this week.

We are now in peak grass buying time for much of the country, with the west now fully awake in terms of purchasing this year’s requirements for grazing.

Nearly all categories of bullocks and heifers in our MartBids analysis table saw an improvement in price this week.

Speaking to mart managers, they say that the only stock that are a trickier trade are the very poor Friesian bullocks or very light Hereford and Aberdeen Angus heifers.

There doesn’t appear to be huge confidence around these long-keep cattle.

A lot of these lighter cattle will end up in the shed next winter and with a huge amount of unknowns around meal costs and winter feed costs in general, buyers have adopted a degree of caution in their purchases.

The top third of heifers in the 400kg to 500kg category hit €2.90/kg this week, which is 40c/kg or €200/head ahead of the same week’s price in 2021 at €2.52/kg.

Weanling trade

Weanlings are still a solid trade. The very tops of bull weanlings are back a little in the analysis this week, but are still a very good trade.

A number of large bull feeders are very active in the market and are especially active for short-keep bulls around the 500kg mark.

These heavy bulls are trading from €2.60/kg to €2.90/kg, depending on quality.

It’s a similar story on the weanling heifer side, with the top third now up at €3/kg, while lesser-quality dairy-bred beef heifers are being bought at €2.10/kg to €2.30/kg.

Dry cows continue to be the highlight of the trade, with top-quality young cows hitting as high as €3/kg in some marts this week.

Fleshed R grading cows are making anything from €2.50/kg to €2.80/kg, with feeding cows a similar trade to last week.

Exporters busy

Live exporters remain very active in the market, especially for calves. Live exports are currently running almost 11,000 head ahead of 2021 figures. Big movers have been Libya and the Netherlands.

Exports would likely have been higher had the Stena Horizon not been out of action for the last few weeks.

There was a lift in demand for Aberdeen Angus calves over the last few days as a result of increased exporter demand for calves being exported to Spain. This added some much needed life to the calf trade this week.

Strong Aberdeen Angus and Hereford calves were hitting over €150/head, while weaker, lighter calves were back at €100 to €120/head in most marts this week.

There is still a wide gap between younger, lighter calves and older heavier calves. Poorer-quality younger Friesian calves are still hard to shift, with most dairy crossbred calves still trading under €20/head.

The number of calves slaughtered took a big drop last week to 485, down from 1,050 the week before. That brings the total number slaughtered in 2022 to 27,647, up almost 7,000 on the 2021 figure of 20,790.