Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Beef finishers feeling pinch as high store prices take toll

Joe Healy

Beef finishers are starting to feel the effects of high store prices on their business. While farmers selling store cattle are adamant that the prices they are getting are necessary to make their business worthwhile, I got a phone call from a finisher last week warning that the economics of his business were not adding up. He argued that what he was paying for store cattle did not equate to what he would get for finished beef from the factories.

However, the market is the market and it shows no signs of easing. Excellent grass growing conditions are, in the finisher's own words, "adding fuel to the fire". Marts continue to report record prices at the ringside for almost all categories of stock, with only dairy animals remaining close to the prices they have been making for the past few years.

Young cows and heifers in milk are making from €1,400-2,000/hd, with older cows selling for €1,000-1,500/hd. In-calf heifers are generally trading for €1,000-1,700/hd. Maiden heifers are making €500-900. Strong Friesian bull calves are making up to €350/hd and, in some cases even more, while the majority are selling at prices of €150-250/hd. Continental bull calves are making from €350-500, while heifers are selling for €250-450.

Top Continental cull cows are making up to €2.16/kg, while Friesian culls are selling for €1.30-1.90/kg, depending on how fleshed they are. Suckler cows with calves at foot are making €1,200-1,800/hd, while some top quality cows are making over €2,000/unit. Suckler cows in calf are making €900-1,500/hd.

Kilkenny Mart had 1,060 head of stock on offer last week, where the trade continued strongly. Light store bullocks sold for up to €3.79/kg, while cull cows topped out at €2.16/kg. Good continental steers were making from €2.16-2.68/kg. The best of Friesian and Hereford steers made up to €2.10/kg and €2.12/kg respectively. Lighter bullocks made from €2.10-3.79/kg.

The best bulls over 600kg in Raphoe Mart sold for €565-1,060 over the weight, while beef bullocks sold for €635-1,075 over the €/kg and store bullocks sold for €505-1,020 over. Beef heifers made €355-985 over the weight, store heifers made €335-795 over and cull cow prices ran from €670-1,390/hd.

Very keen demand for calves at Enniscorthy Mart drove prices for strong Friesian bull calves up to €385/hd, while the rest sold for €130/hd upwards. Continental bull calves made €350-495 each and heifers made €240-460 each.

Beef bullocks sold for €700-975 with their weight, while stores sold for €400-800 over. Beef and butcher heifers made €600-855 over the €/kg, with stores making from €440-660 over. Friesian cull cows sold for €150-600 over their weight and beef-type cows sold for €400-800 over.

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Heavy steers over 500kg sold for €2.08-2.73/kg at Mayo-Sligo mart last week. Steers in the 300-500kg bracket sold for €2.34-3.45/kg, while lighter lots moved at €2.54-3.92/kg. Quality Continental bull weanlings of 400-500kg sold for €2.48-2.97/kg, while lighter types made €2.21-3.58/kg. Heavy heifers of 400-500kg sold for €2.23-2.86/kg. Heifers between 300kg and 400kg sold for €2.10-3.25/kg.

At Ballymote Mart, bullocks weighing 400-500kg sold for €600-855 over, while heavier lots made up to €955 over. Light store heifers sold for €500-740 over the €/kg and heifers of 400-500kg sold for €600-1,020 over. Suckler springers sold for €1,350-1,800/hd. Light weanling bulls sold for €400-630 over their weight and bulls of 300-400kg made €525-700 over.

Indo Farming