While factory agents continue to play down the cattle trade, they take a different view on the world when they cozy up around a mart ring.

Heavy cattle took a lift this week on the back of very strong factory demand for finished cattle in marts.

Like many other weeks this spring, dry cows were the highlight of the trade again, with wholesalers and factory agents shooting it out for any heavy cows with flesh for immediate slaughter.

For the fifth week in a row, the cow kill dropped last week to just 7,000 cows, the lowest weekly kill of cows so far in 2024.

This is forcing factories into marts to source finished animals that will suit the manufacturing trade.

Their appetite isn’t just confined to cows, with out-of-spec bulls also taking agents’ fancy this week.

Mince is mince and whether that comes from bulls, cows or anything else at value, it doesn’t matter at the moment.


Taking a look at this week’s Irish Farmers Journal Martbids analysis table, we see that it was heavy cattle that saw the biggest rise, with heavy heifers taking a particularly big jump.

Top-quality heifers over 600kg came into €3.29/kg this week. If we take a 650kg R= grading heifer killing out at 55% , that’s a 357kg carcase.

At a base price of €5.05/kg plus 20c/kg in-spec QA bonus, that heifer comes into €1,874, a long way off the €2,138 these heifers are making in the mart this week.

Yes, there are costs to mart selling, but there are also costs to factory selling as well. It’s a huge difference and, remember, this isn’t on one heifer, these figures are taken from the Martbids database, so its an average from across the country.

Top-quality dry cows with good flesh crossed €3/kg on regular occasions this week, as agents were under pressure to fill orders.

It was actually the lighter bullocks in the bullock rings this week that met the best trade.

Light bullocks in the 250kg to 400kg weight bracket were up 22c/kg this week, with average bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg weight bracket up 6c/kg.

Heavy bullocks held pretty firm in last week’s trading, with a slight decrease in the heavy dairy-cross bullocks.

Elphin Mart had a super bullock trade on Monday night, with a Charolais-cross bullock weighing 565kg hitting €2,160 (€3.82/kg).

The weanling rings have gotten a lot quieter in recent weeks, with very small numbers now being traded until autumn-born weanlings start to come out in mid-summer.

Bull weanlings saw another steady week’s trading, with exporters driving the trade. Average-quality bull weanlings in the 300kg to 400kg weight bracket came in at €3.36/kg - similar to last week.

Heavier bulls in the 400kg to 450kg weight bracket saw a slight improvement, up 5c/kg to €3.13/kg this week.

Heifer weanlings were back a little, with average-quality 300kg to 400kg heifer weanlings coming in at €2.98/kg this week, a drop of 11c/kg on the previous week.