Cattle prices slump as farmers offload stock
Sharp hike in cull cow slaughter figures as drought poses severe problems across all farm sectors
Cattle prices have taken a serious hit in the marts and factories this week as farmers with parched fields and tight grass supplies continue to offload stock.
The continuing drought is causing severe problems for both livestock farmers and cereal growers, and there is little chance of respite as Met Éireann has forecast another week of searing temperatures.
Store cattle took the sharpest fall in the sales rings, with plainer quality bullocks falling by €80-100/hd over the last three weeks.
Factory quotes are also back 10c/kg this week or around €35/hd, with the factories quoting €4.00-4.05/kg for bullocks, and €4.10-4.15 for heifers.
Factory buyers attributed the latest cut in cattle prices to a surge in cull cow numbers, with a sharp hike in the supply of stock being offloaded by milk suppliers.
This trend is borne out by Department of Agriculture data. Provisional figures for last week suggest that the number of cows slaughtered was close to 9,000hd. This is almost 1,300hd up on the same week last year.
Factory agents maintain that some farmers are selling cows no matter what the price.
"We agreed to take 16 cows from one farmer, but when we got there he wanted us to take 18 more," one buyer told the Farming Independent.