CALF prices remained extremely strong in the marts this week as tighter numbers than expected boosted the trade.
The surge in calf numbers that was anticipated last week has not materialised, with dairy farmers holding calves for longer so far this spring before selling them.
Mart managers report strong supplies of older calves in the marts over the last few weeks, with a sizeable premium being paid for these hardier animals.
Up to €200/hd was paid in New Ross on Saturday for four to five-week-old Friesian bull calves. The shippers were generally paying from €40/hd to €90/hd for lighter Friesian bulls.
There was a lively trade for Angus and Hereford bulls, with a top of €340-350 being paid for older lots. Younger and 'softer' bulls made €140-150. Up to €400/hd was paid for Continental bulls, with the best of the prices being secured by Belgian Blues.
Good-quality Angus and Hereford heifers sold for €250-270/hd, with the best of the Continental heifers making close to €400/hd.
It was a similar story in Fermoy Mart. Friesian bulls sold from €50/hd to €170/hd, with the shippers active for stock and paying from €50/hd to €110/hd.
Hereford and Angus bulls made from €140/hd to €345/hd, while prices for Hereford and Angus heifers ranged from €100/hd to €270/hd.
Continental bulls made from €200/hd to €380/hd, with Continental heifers generally making €170-310/hd.
The ICSA warned beef farmers last week that they risked losing an "absolute fortune" by paying over the odds for calves this spring.
ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham said there was "no sense" in beef farmers buying calves at current prices unless they had "a contract for a viable price" from the beef factories for 2022.
"At current beef prices, farmers are buying calves to make absolutely nothing on them," he claimed.
However, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said current calf prices reflected the improved outlook for beef following the recent lift in prices in both the marts and factories.