Marts throughout the country are experiencing a super start to the year, with increased numbers week on week and strong demand throughout the categories.

Mart mangers have told the Irish Farmers Journal that they are experiencing an incredible turnout of cattle for this time of year. This increased throughput is largely being driven by price, with buyers anxious for cattle.

It’s a quieter than usual time of year at factories, as much of the throughput off grass and a short finishing period has now been slaughtered.

Coupled with the majority of under-16-month bull beef not due for later spring or early summer means factory agents and specialised finishers are willing to pay over the odds for more forward stock.

Looking at steers breaking 600kg, we can see a massive rise of 22c/kg on the average price on the week.

This gives an average sale price of €2.42/kg or nearly €1,600/head for a 650kg animal.

This price jumps up a further 30c/kg for lots in the top 33%, meaning your same 650kg animal is worth closer to €1,800/head.

A quick look at last year’s data shows this price for your better-quality lot is up a massive 29c/kg or an extra €200/head.

While heavy heifers saw substantial drops on the week, overall this is a more realistic glimpse of trade. Last week’s figures proved somewhat distorted due to smaller numbers and much of these numbers coming from special fat stock sales, which saw a number of high prices due to animals being bought for breeding.

Prices for heifers in general are holding level with their steer comrades. That said, at the moment you would be better off selling steers due to their increased weight.

As highlighted by the mart managers on this week’s pages, prices for cull cows are reaching record highs.

While many dairy cows were struggling to make €1/kg last year, this year cows are making €2/kg, with some even surpassing this.

This image is very much mirrored for beef cattle, with prices of over €2,000 regularly achieved for continental cows across the country this week.

That said, these prices were again paid for more forward stock. Those in need of intensive feeding failed to meet the same highs, but still stand above last year.

Cull cows

Looking at the average cull cow price this week, it stands at €1.70/kg. This is up from €1.48/kg in the same week of 2021 with much higher numbers.

This difference is even higher when we look at the upper end of dry cows sold, which would largely be your suckler beef cows. Average price in this category this week rested at €2.11/kg, having stood at €1.77/kg in 2021.

This exceptional trade for all forward types of cattle is helping boost many of the other categories.

Steers are generally up substantially across weights under 500kg, with marts highlighting particular demand for Angus-cross stock of all weights. Lighter heifers again show decreases on the week, but remain level with their steer comrades.

Weanling numbers are light on the ground still but showing positive signs are we head deeper into spring.