Sunshine and warm weather brings out the daffodils in March, lifting the hearts and moods of everyone.
The good weather also brings out an important customer to the ringsides of marts or computer screens of online marts in recent years.
A huge proportion of beef farmers purchase cattle to summer graze, purchasing their animals in March and April to coincide with good weather and turnout and then selling again in October or November before housing time.
This time of year always sees a lift in the trade and while some industry commentators have been doing their best to talk down the trade in recent days, mart managers around the country have seen a lift in the trade over the weekend and the early days of this week.
The Irish Farmers Journal MartBids Database points to more positive sentiment in the trade over the last week.
In the south of the country, turnout to grass is in full swing. Moving further north, cattle are gradually making their way outdoors, as good weather has dried ground and kickstarted grass growth.
The initial shock of high fertiliser prices seems to have abated, with grass buyers still looking for cattle.
Looking at this week’s MartBids table, we can see an improvement in prices across the majority of categories of stock.
Typical bullocks destined for grass are up between 3c and 6c/kg on last week, with a few very busy sales of grass bullocks over the last few days.
The top end of 400kg to 500kg bullocks are working off €2.87/kg, while the average bullocks in the same weight category are working off €2.48/kg, an increase of 3c/kg on last week.
It’s a similar story in the heifer trade, with those in the 400kg to 500kg average-quality bracket improving by 5c/kg this week to €2.50/kg.
The top-end heifers were back a little by 3c/kg, but were still coming in at €2.79kg.
That means a good-quality heifer at 480kg is coming in at €1,339/head, which is up €150/head on the same week last year.
In the weanling rings, weanling bulls have cooled off a little this week.
Feedlots are still very hungry for heavier bulls, with the top-end quality bulls in the 400kg to 450kg category up 5c/kg to €2.91/kg.
The majority of these bulls are going to an indoor system to come out in June or July as bull beef.
Weanling heifers saw the biggest increase this week, with light weanling heifers destined for grass up 11c to 12c/kg over the last seven days.
Heifers in the 200kg to 300kg bracket and 300kg to 400kg bracket broke the €3/kg mark this week, coming in at €3.09/kg and €3.03/kg respectively.
In the dry cow ring, factories continue to drive the price, with some exceptional prices being paid for quality heavy cows.
Some of these cows have hit €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg at a few special sales, with a combination of ringside and online sales driving the market.
Suckler cows continue to meet a very solid trade. The cull cow and weanling trade continuing strong has meant there are customers willing to dig deep for replacements.