Mart trade: Bullocks and cull cows achieve the top prices in a bright start to 2017
A bit like the GAA inter-county matches over the weekend where managers got to trial many of their panel and fringe players and make notes on their progress, the resumption of the cattle marts also saw much note-taking.
While the numbers of those actually intent on buying were limited, there were plenty of potential buyers who turned out to observe proceedings.
Those who were there to buy generated enough interest to push prices upwards by .20-40/hd for both heifers and cull cows, while the limited supply of bullocks on offer saw their prices at some marts also hardening by up to .20-30/hd.
That said, this time of year always generates more questions than answers.
Some of the big questions right now include; when..marts numbers of bullocks begin to swell at marts in the spring will those extra numbers be largely of a dairy variety?
Will we see progress on the movements issue? Will the dairymen succeed in watering down the genetics of both Hereford and Aberdeen Angus breeds to the point where none will get a bonus at slaughter?
And with the announcement that Egypt is once again to take processed beef from Ireland, are we seeing a return to a 1980s-typemarket when Middle Eastern and North African countries were touted as the potential saviour of the Irish beef business?
The answers to these and other questions will be what will largely define the mart trade in 2017.