Some parts of the country have experienced heavy rainfall since the beginning of the week, which has turned some people to start looking at housing stock.

Whenever this happens, we generally see a flush of cattle heading to marts, as people try to unload stock before the expensive winter period.

While we are starting to see small bits of this in some parts of the country, throughput at marts was already quite high in the past few weeks and months.

The strong prices witnessed at marts over the past few months has meant more and more are heading ringside to trade. This is particularly evident for heavy stock, which continue to be in the strongest demand.

Any cattle suitable for direct slaughter or only in need of a few weeks of feeding are seeing bidders online and ringside fight it out.

These bids are generally coming from specialised finishers or factory agents, who are having to spend their premiums to ensure a consistent flow of stock are heading to the factory gate.

Heavy heifers

Heifers of 600kg-plus this week saw the average sale price at €2.42/kg.

This average is up a massive 37c/kg on the same week last year.

On a per-head basis, this is the equivalent of getting an extra €222 for a 600kg heifer.

While the better-quality heifers in this weight division are back 15c/kg on last week, it is still up a massive 34c/kg on the year.

The reason for the drop this week was due to a few special breeding sales the previous week, which boosted average.

This image is mirrored on the heavy steer side, with average price standing at €2.34/kg. This price is up from €1.97/kg on the same week of 2020.

If we look at a 650kg bullock, this means an added €240 per head for the farmer.

While the better-quality steer stands over 10c/kg behind their heifer comrades, it still recorded an impressive average of €2.57/kg in the past seven days.

It would mean a 700kg steer is making just shy of €1,800 ringside

At this average for the top third of bullocks sold, it would mean a 700kg steer is making just shy of €1,800 ringside.

To get the equivalent at the factory gate taking a 55% kill-out, then a base price of €4.67/kg is needed to match the mart.

Cull cows

Buyers continue to be looking for cull cows despite increased numbers in recent weeks.

Average across the board, inclusive of dairy-bred and suckler-bred stock, this week rested at €1.79/kg.

Similar to the bullocks and heifers, this average is up 37c/kg from €1.42 the same week of 2020.

If we look at an average cow weighing 650kg, this is a massive 26% increase in price per head.

This strong demand is also passing down to the short-keep lots.

Steer prices from 500kg to 600kg are up 30c/kg on the same week last year, while heifers of the same weight stand a further 5c/kg higher than this again.

Better-quality short-keep lots again saw a drop on last week, but remain well above the same period last year.

Overall average for the top third of lots sold for both bullocks and heifers exceeded €2.60/kg.