Looks aren't everything - how to spot a bargain
Six weeks ago, Maurice Brosnan of Gortatlea Mart was calming concerns over potential fodder shortages in these pages, saying: "Farmers were putting cattle into sheds on September 1 last year - this year we have six weeks grass in front of us."
While Sean Ryan of Sixmilebridge Mart reckoned all bullocks were up €40-50/hd two weeks ago, Maurice saw that trend continuing among the lighter stores last week, saying: "Lighter bullocks are up €100/hd in two weeks but I still think there is value to be had among those lighter, plainer types."
I know some men who would agree and I know others who wouldn't touch an O or P grade Friesian or Angus with a barge pole.
Last week's Ringside average price for that lighter 300-399kg Friesian was €1.30/kg, while the Angus bullock at this weight averaged €1.76/kg.
Prices for the poorest of those Friesians averaged out at €1.05/kg, with the worst of the Anguses making €1.48/kg.
I once heard an accomplished cattle dealer trying to gauge whether a poor-looking batch of Friesians at a certain mart were the victims of poor management coupled with the effects of a wet day, or whether somewhere in their DNA was a good square Friesian waiting to get out.
He classified them not as poor, not as average… no, they were, he declared, a subdivision of all weights and classes, "the tricky bullock".
He was citing the essence of a good cattle man: the ability to spot potential in something that looks ordinary.