The past week has been like no other in the beef trade, with new records being hit for all types of forward and factory-fit cattle.

All signs pointed to a positive week on price when factories opened quotes on Monday morning (May 16) at up to 20c/kg higher than the week previous.

Generally, cattle price rises in increments of 5c/kg, or 10c/kg on an exceptional week, so a 20c/kg rise shows just how high the demand for Irish beef is at present.

However, despite the beef kill running 71,000 cattle ahead of last year, the cattle supply is still failing to meet the huge swell in demand and factory agents are targeting mart rings to secure supplies of forward and finished cattle.

Mart managers from around the country have reported heated ‘polling matches’ between agents from different factories and said “agents are going well over and above the factory-price equivalents to secure all types of heavy cattle”.

A number of mart managers have told Agriland that at least one major processor has instructed cattle buyers for its associated feedlots to temporarily cease buying cattle from Friday, May 20.

This move is no surprise to marts and generally happens in late-May every year. Demand from other feedlot buyers is expected to continue to drive on the mart trade for beef cattle.

While, heavy, fleshed cows, heifers, steers and bulls are all in high demand regardless of age, breed or spec, what’s ruling the roost on price/kg is Angus heifers and steers.

Heavy cull cows are making as high as €3,000 and above, with a 900kg Limousin cow making €3,040 at Carrigallen Mart on Monday and a 930kg Angus cow making €3,000 at Delvin Mart on Thursday (May 19). A number of other cows also cleared €3/kg at the sale.

Bullocks in Delvin topped out at €3.38/kg for a 375kg Charolais-cross bullock, while the top call in the heifer ring went to a 655kg Limousin-cross heifer selling for €2,300 or €3.51/kg.

In Co. Meath, an exceptional trade was witnessed at Carnaross Mart for cattle with heavy cull cows comfortably clearing €3/kg and bullocks making up to €2,800 for an 865kg Charolais bullock. The heifer sale saw equally as high of a demand, with as much as €2,370 paid for a 685kg Charolais heifer.

Meanwhile, in Co. Kerry, Angus bullocks hit €3.62/kg at Castleisland Mart on Wednesday (May 18), for two 605kg Angus bullocks.

After a heated polling match, the top caller took the bullocks home at a price of €2,190.

A bundle of 13 Angus bullocks weighing 612kg came into the ring belonging to a Co. Limerick farmer.

The pen of cattle sold for a handsome €27,300, or €2,100 each. This price would equate to €3.43/kg.

The heifer ring was also lively for beef lots and lighter-type Angus-cross heifers were a particularly strong trade at Castleisland Mart, with six 186kg Angus heifers selling for €640. 

Also in Co. Kerry, at Gortletlea Mart on Friday (May 20), cows were in high demand, with heavy cows making well over and above €3/kg and a number of leading farmer, feedlot and factory buyers in attendance.

The strong cattle trade is set to continue into next week and the coming weeks with early indications suggesting an additional 10c/kg rise in factory quotes on the cards for this coming Monday morning (May 23).