Rise of €200 at factory is swiftly lost at mart
Selling the first load of cattle is a hugely significant event on a beef farm because this is the first real test of how your cattle have done in any given year.
I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago when I sent off my first load, so you will appreciate that it was with some trepidation that I examined the factory returns.
As it turned out, I was reasonably happy with their performance and I decided for interest to compare them to the returns for my first load of beef last year. By coincidence, they were sold about the same time as last year and killed out at the same weights.
This year's cattle were quite a mixed bunch as they contained 12 Friesians, three Angus-crosses and one Jersey-cross. While a few of the Friesians did grade P, they were mostly O3s, which was fine, and I was also quite pleased with the Jersey-cross, which graded P+3+ and came in at about €100 below the average price for the load -- which wasn't too bad.
The three Angus did well, two grading R and one O+ with fat scores from 3+ to 4=. Pricewise, they beat the Friesians by about €200/hd. Unusually, they were bought in at about the same price as the Friesians, probably because they were around 28 months old at the time. Why they weighed just 410kg at two-and-a-half years of age is a mystery to me as they did well putting on more than 250kg in their 12 months with me, which is a little ahead of my average weight gain.
However, the most obvious fact contained in the returns was the increase in price of about €200 last year. This was due mostly to the increase in price/kg of 57c (a grid price of 360c against 303c last year), better fat scores and improved grades.
If I was a little carried away by the increase in price this year, I was quickly brought crashing down to earth when I went to the mart to replace them.