Analysis of the MartBids Database shows a 30% increase in the number of cattle offered for sale this week compared with the previous seven days.
However, this is from a relatively low base, as sales throughout January had been quite small.
When this is the case, individual sales can have a greater effect on the overall weekly price trends.
Last week saw a specialist bullock fatstock sale bolster steer prices, particularly in the heavier weight bands.
Overall, prices for steers and heifers remain strong
As a result, this week we see the flip of this, with steer prices easing slightly, while a number of specialist heifer fatstock sales over the past seven days sees heifer prices rise almost across the board.
This will undoubtedly correct itself again next week to figures more in line with recent weeks.
Overall, prices for steers and heifers remain strong. This is evident in the tightening of the price differential between the average and bottom third of cattle over the past number of weeks, which typically happens when numbers are tight and cattle are in demand.
However, two classes of stock seem to be in even greater demand than the rest, with young, light weanlings and factory fit stock meeting exceptional demand.
Mart managers are reporting high demand, particularly for lighter and younger weanlings.
While numbers on offer are small, there is an extra click of the mouse or tap on the smartphone screen being made for late spring- and early summer-born weanlings, as some farmers are keen to get numbers on farm, but need to keep an eye on meeting the requirements of the BEAM scheme.
The nitrogen figure attributed to stock more than doubles once an animal reaches its first birthday (24kg N up to 57kg N) and so could have an effect on overall stocking rate some farms are able to operate at over the coming months.
A sizable proportion of the additional throughput in marts this week is made up of short-keep or factory fit stock.
Farmers continue to see better returns for finished cattle in the live ring. With factories holding firm or even cooling slightly on beef price in recent days, this trend for greater numbers of finished stock moving through marts looks set to continue – especially for finishers with small numbers of cattle on offer or those with little bargaining power.
The average price paid increased 8c/kg this week to €1.58/kg
Speaking to mart managers, factory agents remain active ringside, albeit not with the same gusto as last week.
Dry cows are in high demand, with northern-buyer activity continuing to put a strong floor in the market.
The average price paid increased 8c/kg this week to €1.58/kg, while the top third of cows increased by 15c/kg to an average price of €2.02/kg. Well-fleshed suckler types continue to make big prices, with €2.10/kg to €2.15/kg readily available for better-quality lots.
Calf numbers are set to increase significantly in the coming weeks, with early signs of this evident over the past seven days.
A greater number of Friesian bull calves on the market has seen a levelling off of price compared with recent weeks.
Traditional-bred dairy-beef calves under 17 days old averaged €240/head
Strong Friesian bull calves are still being met with high demand from farmer buyers, with prices from €85 up to €165 on offer in places. While exports are yet to take off, suitable types were trading from €55 to €90 for the most part.
Beef-cross dairy calf numbers remain tight on the ground and so prices remain high for these types.
Traditional-bred dairy-beef calves under 17 days old averaged €240/head, while those aged three weeks to one month old averaged €280/head.
Bigger prices are on offer for continental types, trading from €350 to €470/head, but again numbers are very low.