The mart trade continues to chug along nicely, with no big swings in the MartBids analysis table this week.

The change to milder weather conditions appears to have helped grass buyers’ confidence, with lighter stores taking a small lift in price this week.

Bullocks weighing 350kg to 400kg saw an improvement in the trade of between 10c and 12c/kg.

Heavy bullocks and heavy heifers also saw a slight improvement this week, with factory agents very active for cattle suitable for next-day slaughter.

Grass heifers in the 400kg to 500kg category remain pretty much unchanged this week compared with last week.

Speaking to a few mart managers this week, they reckon we may have already seen the biggest sales of the spring, with numbers starting to drop a little this week.

Some farmers moved out a lot earlier this year with cattle to capitalise on higher prices and reduce feed costs.

Lower numbers could help to steady the trade into May and June.

Cull cows remain at the top of the market, with some exceptional prices paid for heavy cows across the country over the last seven days.

Good-quality cows are making from €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg, with cows with only one calf registered making more than heifers in some marts this week.

Heavy weanling bulls saw the biggest drop this week, with 450kg-plus calves dropping by 10c/kg.

Lighter bull calves saw a smaller shift, with a steady trade for weanlings for grass again this week.

The majority of the categories in the weanling heifers saw a further improvement on last week, with the top third of heifers showing the most improvement at 13c/kg.

Ferry repairs

The only negative is the calf trade. There was a marked decrease in export buyers for export-type calves due to the Stena Horizon having scheduled maintenance carried out.

The Stena Horizon is licensed to carry 22 livestock trucks and departs three times a week from Rosslare. The vessel was due to return to sailings on the Rosslare to Cherbourg route on 11 April, but the return has been delayed until 19 April.

This is likely to leave a subdued calf trade until normal service resumes.

Beef breeds dominated the numbers in Bandon on Monday, but there was still a good turnout of strong Friesian bull calves.

Those over 65kg were mainly making from €15 to €20 with their weight and a select few exceeded this range, with a top price of €130 for Friesian bulls this week.

Traditional breed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford calves were generally trading between €100 and €200/head.

At the lighter end of the sale, €30 was the floor on prices for Friesian bull calves. There was a selection of Friesian heifer calves on offer and these sold from €105 up to €240.

Special sale

Kildare and West Wicklow IFA, in conjunction with Leinster Marts, are holding a special ‘Calves for Ukraine’ sale on Wednesday 20 April at 11am.

There are already over 50 calves entered for the sale. All sale proceeds will go to the Red Cross Ukraine fund.