It was another overall positive week for the mart trade, with mart managers reporting good demand and short supplies over the last 7 days.

Mart numbers continue to track downward as we head into the quiet summer period.

Despite the drop in numbers the buyers keep coming, with a few big Northern customers back around the ring over the last week adding some bite to the trade.

Numbers of finished cattle remain tight in Northern Ireland and across the water in the UK, so some of the larger feeders have moved south again to shore up supplies of forward store and finished cattle.

Live exports of store cattle and finished cattle to Northern Ireland are already up 12% on the same period in 2023, with 23,893 cattle making their way north of the border so far in 2024.

There were over 1,000 extra cattle exported to NI in April of this year compared to April 2023 figures.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Elphin mart manager Ciaran Lynch said: “We have seen a steady increase in the numbers going north over the last few weeks. We are also seeing big demand from feeders for forward store bullocks and heifers at the moment.

A further 2,705 animals have been exported to Great Britain so far this year, primarily dairy females for further production.

There is a big demand for dairy replacement stock on the international market also.

Cattle exporter David Clarke has already sent a consignment of in-calf heifers to Algeria earlier this year, and it’s estimated that the Algerian market could require over 20,000 dairy replacement females in 2024.

Clarke currently has over 2,000 dairy heifers being contract reared around the country that will be due for export in autumn 2024.

He is urging dairy farmers with pedigree Holstein Friesians to register their progeny and consider breeding more heifers for the export market.

“We are very confident that this market will be there in the long term if we can supply it with enough heifers,” Clarke said.

Heavy cattle

Taking a look at this week’s Martbids analysis table, we see that heavy cattle improved across almost all categories this week.

Top quality heavy bullocks over 600kg came in at €3.09/kg this week, up 4 cent/kg on the previous week’s trading.

Average quality bullocks in the same weight category came in at €2.83/kg this week, also up 4 cent/kg on the previous week.

Lighter bullocks were back a touch on the previous week with top quality bullocks in the 350-400kg weight backet coming in at €3.11/kg, 16 cent down on last week.

Heifers were a similar story this week, with heavy heifers marching on while lighter heifers stagnated a little. Top end heavy heifers came in at €3.17/kg this week, up 4 cent/kg on the previous week.

It was a tale of two halves in the weanling trade, with lighter weanlings back a little and heavy weanlings in demand again.

Top quality weanling bulls in the 300-400kg weight bracket were back 17 cent/kg this week, while heavier bulls in the same quality bracket were up 23 cent/kg to €3.84/kg.

Top quality weanling heifers in the 300-400kg weight bracket were back 12 cent/kg to €3.53/kg.