Farm Ireland
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Monday 10 December 2018

Factories: Deals being done for the right stock

Traditionally Ploughing week can see cattle numbers easing back slightly. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Traditionally Ploughing week can see cattle numbers easing back slightly. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Traditionally Ploughing week can see cattle numbers easing back slightly. However, with the kill a fortnight ago running at almost 38,000hd, any fall-off would have to be pretty dramatic to make an immediate impression.

At 1,209,145, this year's kill to the end of the first week of September is up almost 41,000hd on last year. While the numbers continue to be strong, those with stock are well positioned to negotiate good deals. However, the hope among finishers is that the bottom of this particular barrel has been reached.

Reports from across the country yesterday morning indicated that while the factories had gained some success last week in pulling bullocks on to a base of €3.70/kg, the general consensus was that €3.75/kg was the bottom. It appears to be a similar story for heifers, with €3.80/kg attempted, but €3.85/kg coming out on top.

Reports confirmed that €3.80/kg for bullocks and €3.90/kg for heifers was secured last week. I also heard from those with cattle to sell that it is proving easier to do a deal on price with the ABP group than with any of the other processors.

Looking at cow prices, the squeeze continues, with the O grade cow slipping another 5c/kg leaving her to range from €3.05/kg to €3.10/kg.

The knock-on effect is most pronounced among the P grades. Generally, P+ cattle are on €2.95-2.80/kg, with other lesser Ps further back. R grade cows, while easier by that 5c/kg in places, are still trading at €3.30-3.40/kg, especially if there are numbers involved and the animals are nicely fleshed.

On the bull side, under-16-month bulls are on a base of €3.85/kg, with those from 16 to 24 month seeing flat prices for U grades running from €4.00-3.95/kg, with R grades on €3.90-3.85/kg and O grade animals on €3.80-3.70/kg.

There will be a lot of questions asked as this year winds down, and one of them - put to me by an older farmer who has spent her life breeding Hereford and Angus stock - is whether come next spring she will sell her weanlings to the boat or wait to be fleeced next autumn in the mart for her stores.

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Returning to factory prices, while it is very important to watch them closely, other equally important factors can go unexamined. I know farmers who, having fought the hard fight on price, fail completely to grasp the importance of questioning their returns should, for example, the grades achieved fail to live up to expectations.

On the other side, I know a few who have no hesitation in pulling a factory on grades or classification. For those who don't ask questions, you have to realise success in life or business doesn't come to you on roller skates.

Indo Farming

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