Mart Trade: Bullock prices continue to creep upwards

Photo: Gerry Mooney
Photo: Gerry Mooney
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

The push by summer grazers to acquire adequate numbers saw more upward pressure on the majority of Ringside bullock categories.

Prices from 400-599kg rose by 2-5c/kg, with only the poorer-quality animal in the 500-599kg section failing to maintain his position. These cattle dropped 1c/kg on average.

In contrast, the 600kg+ bullock saw his price rise by 3c/kg on average, helped by a significant increase among the top quarter of 5c/kg or €30/hd.

This increase in price for those heavier forward store or beef types comes despite the recent cut of 5c/kg at the factory gate. What is the logic behind such an increase?

I don’t offer any ‘one size fits all’ theory, but comments by Patsy Smith of Dowra Mart on his trade for cull cows got me thinking. Patsy quoted prices for heavy factory-type cows that ranged from €1.40-1.90/kg with store cows selling from €1.20-2.10/kg.

“Heavy cows were sluggish but it was noticeable that there was an appetite for more storeish types,” Patsy said.

Is it that the men buying those lighter cows and their comrades who buy good forward stores at present believe that come June to August kill numbers will have fallen and factory prices will be up?

At the other end of the weight table, the 300-399kg bullock slipped back by 2-9c/kg.

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Also slipping backwards last week after some recent good performances was the bottom half of the heifer table, with everything from 350-499kg easing by 3-8c/kg.

Above 500kg there was a slight increase in averages for the top and bottom quarters of both the 500-599kg and 600kg+ sections. Increases of 1-2c/kg were recorded.

Both Maurice Brosnan of Gortatlea and Patsy Smith of Dowra reported an improved trade for weanlings. Last week’s returns on our Ringside table bear out their analysis.

It was interesting to hear the two men comment on which buyers were most active in their marts. Patsy said farmers were his main customers, while down in Kerry the shippers were the ones with the bigger appetite.

What all of this meant is that your better-made Limousin and Charolais bull in the 100-299kg division averaged €3.00-3.06/kg, while the same quality and breed in the 300-399kg section sold for €2.67-2.81/kg.

It wasn’t all good news, however, as the heavier bull weanling saw his price slip 7c/kg to €2.09/kg.

Maurice Brosnan wondered if farmers are being too cautious. He conceded that following a very difficult winter where factory prices and costs were concerned, he could see why some farmers are slow to commit to buying back.

“I understand why men are cautious, but there has to be value out there. Last year farmers were buying O/R-grade bulls and giving €2.50-2.70/kg; today that same animal is selling from €2.00-2.30/kg.”

You could in theory be getting in at €100-200/hd below last year’s prices. But after the winter just gone, it’s the uncertainty of where you’ll get out that’s weighing on most farmers’ minds.

Marts Roundup

1 Dowra

 A slightly smaller sale saw an improved trade for all classes of weanlings, with more farmer customers ringside. Weanling heifers under 300kg sold from €1.80-3.20/kg, with those up to 400kg selling from €1.70-3.10/kg. Prices for 400-500kg were €1.70-2.85/kg, with heavier heifers making €2.00-2.60/kg. Among the bulls those over 400kg sold from €1.90-2.75/kg. Bulls from 300-400kg made €1.70-3.15/kg, with lighter types making up to €3.30/kg. Heavy dry cows sold from €1.40-1.90/kg, with store cows making €1.20-2.10/kg.

2 Ennis

The story here was also of a smaller number but with trade improved. Quality among the bullocks was reported as “variable”, but once the quality was right buyers were keen. Samples saw two 605kg Charolais make €2.54/kg, with two 465kg Charolais clicking €2.66/kg. A selection of Herefords saw a single at 475kg make €2.12/kg, while four together weighing 562kg on average found a new home at €2.07/kg. On the cull cow side your better-quality continental hit the €2.00kg, with one cracking 580kg Limousin making €2.21/kg. The better Friesian animal sold from €1.20-1.40/kg.

3 Ballinakill

Numbers here were reported as well in tune for the time of year, with the better-quality store suitable for grass hitting the high notes. However, those with overly fleshed or aged stock found the going tougher. Heavy bullocks sold for €1.95-2.35/kg, with forward stores on €2.00-2.50/kg. Lighter store bullocks made €2.10-3.10/kg. Beef heifers made €1.95-2.45/kg, with store heifers making €2.10-3.15/kg. Weanling bulls sold for €2.05-2.90/kg, with weanling heifers making €2.10-3.20/kg. Dry cows sold from €1.10-1.85/kg.

4 Blessington

Beef and forward store bullocks sold from €610-950/hd over the €1/kg. Stores over 500kg made from €580-800 with their weight, with those from 300-499kg selling from €350-690/hd with the €1/kg. Beef and butcher-type heifers made €460-785/hd over the €1/kg, with store heifers making €350-600/hd over the weight. Beef cows made €190-410/hd over the €1/kg, with feeder cows making €1/kg to €190/hd over the €1/kg. Friesian bull calves sold from €40-120/hd, with Hereford and Angus bulls making €100-240/hd

5 Macroom

Starting cautiously here, you still found yourself pushed into €2.51/kg for seven 505kg Charolais. A little scalded perhaps you decide to scale back the money but still have to give €810/hd or €2.19/kg for those seven nice 370kg Angus bullocks. Your last punt of the day sees you giving €2.06/kg for three 530kg Angus. 

6 Gortatlea

Maurice Brosnan reflected on a special bull weanling sale that saw very big numbers, some excellent quality and equally excellent prices. “This time last year farmers were the dominant force around the ring, this year it’s the shippers that are taking up the slack,” he said. Prices paid ranged from €3.00-3.40/kg for U/E grade bulls, with the two 480kg Belgian Blues who netted €1,500/hd among the big hitters. Your R/U grade animal sold around the €2.50-2.70/kg mark, with farmer buyers moving on the O/R grade animal at €2.00-2.40/kg.

7 Raphoe

Numbers were up here on the previous week, with strong demand soaking up those extra numbers and then some. The main beneficiaries were the lighter stores and weanlings where prices hit a top of €2.90/kg for the bullocks and €3.10/kg for the bull weanlings. A summary of prices shows heifers selling from €2.10-3.05/kg, with bullocks making €2.00-2.90/kg. Weanling bulls ranged from €2.10/kg to €3.10/kg, while cull cows made from €705/hd to €1,345/hd.

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