Farmers holding on to finished cattle due to factory prices holding is resulting in positive mart trade throughout the country.
While factory-fit cattle are back around €20/head on January mart prices, they are now holding firm and seeing increases in some places.
With direct factory sellers holding tight for an increased price, factory agents are being forced to bid on the open market to fill demand.
Factory-fit steers of 600kg-plus saw an increase of 3c/kg on the week, with the average price settling at €2.12/kg. This average increases to €2.32/kg for the better-quality lots, an increase of 5c/kg on the week, while the lower end of lots saw no change.
On the heifer front, animals of the same weight also saw an increase, but not as big. On average, fed heifers rose by 1c to settle at €2.12/kg. This was the same increase as the better-quality lots, which sold for an average price of €2.33/kg. Lower-quality lots increased by 2c/kg to settle at €1.87/kg.
Stores are more plentiful, so aren’t seeing as big of increases yet
Agents are also looking to secure short-keep lots to fill the demand, resulting in heifers from 500kg to 600kg seeing a 5c/kg rise on average. Better-quality lots in this weight bracket rose by 6c/kg, while lesser-quality lots saw a 4c rise.
Stores are more plentiful, so aren’t seeing as big of increases yet. Prices are in line with what was being paid last week.
Store cattle are also holding quite firm, with only the very light steers seeing any significant change. Steers sub-350kg saw a drop of 10c/kg on the week, but some of this is driven by the increased number of first-cross dairy-beef animals from last spring coming on stream.
The real show-stopping bull weanling under 300kg is still demanding a premium, with the average coming in at €2.87/kg, up 5c on the week
More of last year’s weanlings are starting to head to marts, with a number of special sales organised over the past two weeks. These sales are being met with a good demand, as farmers look to source cattle for summer grazing. The farmer choice remains the lighter store weanling with that added shape.
Weanling bulls are keeping very steady on the week, with the difference in average price between weight categories seeing less of a range compared with female weanlings. Bulls 450kgs or under sold for an average price of €2.34 to €2.36/kg. The real show-stopping bull weanling under 300kg is still demanding a premium, with the average coming in at €2.87/kg, up 5c on the week.
As mentioned, the range for weanling females is more noticeable, with buyers still very keen for the lighter stock over the heavier ones forward. Heifers sub-300kg saw a drop of 8c/kg on the week, but still recorded an impressive average of €2.49/kg. Heifers in excess of 400kg would be back about 20c/kg on their lighter comrades.
Fresh-calved dairy cows continue to be in high demand. While numbers are low, anybody looking to restock after winter culling is paying a premium, with up to €2,200 paid in some marts. Overall, the top third of better-quality milking cows made just shy of €1,800.
Cows and in-calf heifers due in the coming month are also seeing a lucrative trade, ranging from €1,000 up to €2,060/head.
As reported last week, sheep trade at marts is holding quite strong. It seems to be nearly a two-tiered system, with top hoggets selling for an average of €1.50/kg, while general factory trade sits back at €1.45/kg.