Prices for store and beef cattle at the marts have surged by up to €80/hd on the back of improved factory prices and strong demand from finishers.
Bidding wars have developed between factory agents and farmers for the best forward store and beef cattle, while cull-cow prices have also increased significantly.
The strong surge came on the back of a 6-10c/kg rise in factory prices in the past fortnight.
Mart managers described the cattle trade in recent days as very strong and, in some cases, unbelievable.
Loads of 600kg bullocks on offer at Athenry Mart this week sold for €550-600 over the weight, while similar-weight heifers also sold for top prices of €500-600 over.
Mart manager Alan Barry said it was almost frustrating not to have more cattle to sell as it was a rare thing to have such strong demand.
"The five or six factory agents were fighting at the ringside," he said.
"The factories seem to have given the nod to secure numbers at higher prices."
The price surge even lifted the trade for plain cattle and cull cows, as average heifers sold for €1.70-2.20/kg and cull cows made €250-300 over the weight.
Prices for store and beef-type cattle at Ennis have increased by €70-80/hd since the pre-Christmas trade, while weanling prices climbed €30-40/hd.
Beef-type cattle sold for €1.95-€2/kg on Thursday, according to manager Martin McNamara, while quality stores sold for €1.90-2/kg (€1,000/hd).
The Clare venue also noted a marked rise in prices for cows, with €1.75/kg, or up to €600 over the weight, paid for individual Continental cows.
"The beef cow was worth nearly as much as a bullock," said Mr McNamara.
In Kilkenny, bullock prices rose €10-20/hd and heifer prices went up by €10-15/hd this week. Beef bullocks sold for €300-650 over the weight, while stores of 500-600kg made €240-590 over. Heavy heifers sold for €270-540 over the weight and stores sold for €220-400 over.
Prices have risen by €50-70/hd at Tullamore Mart since Christmas, where heavy heifers made €500-550 over and stores sold for €450-550 over, while beef bullocks made €470-550 over and store bullocks sold for €400-470 over.
IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said factory base price for steers moved up to €3.36-3.42/kg in recent days, with some top prices of €3.48/kg being paid. Heifer prices rose to €3.42-3.50/kg with top prices of €3.56/kg.
Strong market demand, tight supplies and a determination by winter finishers to recover the increases in feed costs were driving the price rise, he added.
Bord Bia has forecast a 150,000hd reduction in this year's cattle kill and a similar reduction next year.
However, Mr Doran warned that winter finishers would need further cattle price increases to recover the cost of increases in feed and fertiliser, which he said were equivalent to 20c/kg in beef prices.