While throughput in marts continues its seasonal mid-summer decline, trade is certainly showing no signs of slowing down, especially for short-keep or factory-fit stock.
This week, we see the average price paid for steers rise by 2c/kg, while the average heifer price is up by over 5c/kg on last week’s figures.
The main driver behind this is the buoyant beef trade at the moment, with beef quotes moving on a further 5c/kg to 10c/kg in some factories this week. This has resulted in increased demand for factory-fit stock in marts, as factory agents try to secure ever-decreasing numbers.
There is still good demand for grass cattle, with heifers weighing between 350kg and 500kg averaging €2.35/kg.
However, for the top third of cattle this increases to €2.60/kg.
Heavier heifers over 600kg averaged €2.41/kg this week, while those weighing 500kg to 600kg averaged €2.36/kg, up 2c/kg on the week.
They say quality always pays and it is certainly the case with bullocks at the moment, with the average price paid for the top third of bullocks up 7c/kg this week, while those in the bottom third are down by about 3c/kg compared to the previous seven days.
Again, the biggest demand is for those short-keep or factory-fit types, with bullocks weighing between 500kg and 600kg averaging €2.36/kg, up 6c/kg on the week.
Those over 600kg averaged €2.34/kg, which is back ever so slightly on last week’s figures.
Weanling numbers remain low in marts at the moment, which can mean that average prices are more variable week to week depending on the quality on show. Bull weanlings from 300kg to 400kg averaged €2.66/kg, while heifers in the same weight band were making €2.58/kg.
Looking at the figures for the corresponding week last year, weanling bulls averaged €2.71/kg, while heifers made €2.64/kg, showing that, while forward cattle are well ahead of this time last year, weanling prices are currently in line with 2020 figures.
One category of stock that has seen higher than usual numbers is dry cows, with a real pick-up in the trade being evident in the last two to three weeks.
A number of wholesalers and smaller factories have been very active in the last two weeks driving on the main factory agents buying dry cows in marts.
Heavy, well-fleshed, factory-fit cows are in huge demand.
MartBids analysis shows the average price increased by 5c/kg this week compared with the previous seven days.
This has seen the average price paid for dry cows this week settle at €1.92/kg, while the top third of cows made a massive €2.38/kg.
As a result, marts are starting to see larger numbers of cows coming forward for sale for the time of year, as farmers look to make the most of positive market.