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Bad week at marts as light cattle crash

Light cattle prices took a hammering last week in what was described as one of the worst weeks at the marts in many months.

Cattle weighing less than 400kg are back by up to €200 in some cases, but generally by €100-150 a head compared to prices on offer as little as three weeks ago.

"Some of the lighter cattle were being put on the market here last week at €1/kg," admitted Listowel mart manager, Barney O'Connell.

"I really noticed that heads were down and there wasn't the same chat or banter as normal around the place," he added.

While cull cows and heavy stock close to finishing continued to sell well, there are fewer buyers for stores, despite the fact that more of these are now beginning to emerge from sheds into the sales rings.

Listowel Mart has also seen a 30pc increase in the number of reduction sales as dairy men attempt to offload cows and reduce stocking rates.

"In previous years, they would have just been selling a few culls but there is a serious rethink happening out there regarding stocking rates after the year we're just after having," said Mr O'Connell.

Ringside price data shows that prices for 300-400kg steers are back by 10c/kg in the last week. The 400-600kg steers were back by 4-6c/kg, while animals more than 600kg were up by 5c/kg to 230c/kg.

It also shows that heifers were down by a similar amount, while weanling bulls and heifers were down by 17c/kg.

Irish Independent