Marts: Buyers defy naysayers by coming out in numbers
Mullinalaghta from Longford defied the odds to win the Leinster club senior football final, and the mart trade also defied the odds last week.
At a time when Irish factory prices for stock - the general governor of the trade - remained welded well below the European average, Irish cattle men refused to believe their trade was a lost cause in the longer game.
From Mohill to Dingle, they came out in numbers seeking to buy.
The are many reasons for this.
Firstly, as we head towards the end of the year, concerns over fodder have eased, and some farmers have calculated that they can safely reinvest.
Secondly, the arrival of the last tranche of this year's Basic Payment will have helped with confidence.
And thirdly, while it has been a very tough year, those with cattle sold do need to keep a close eye on their tax situation.
And with mart prices well below where they were this time last year, there was a temptation to speculate on what factory prices might do in 2019.
The overall average prices for bullocks on our Ringside table this time last year ranged from €1.89-2.04/kg as opposed to last week's €1.83-1.85/kg.
On the heifer side the figures across all weight divisions for last week were €1.83-1.99/kg versus €2.06-2.22/kg for 2017.
But don't get the idea there was a major bounce in the trade. There wasn't.
Movement on the steer table was more down than up, while the heifer table was divided: those animals below 600kg in general edged upwards, and those above headed in the other direction.
What had managers so pleased, I believe, is that the majority of stock got sold and that those numbers from 400-500kg held steady.
Getting into the specifics of the Ringside, the overall average for the 300-399kg bullock eased by 3c/kg to €1.85/kg - or €555-738/hd.
In the 400-499kg section prices also averaged €1.85/kg (€740-923/hd).
The forward store section from 500-599kg saw the overall average price fall by 4c/kg to €1.84/kg - down €20-24/hd at €920-1,102/hd.
The 600kg+ bullock saw the biggest fall in price, with 5c/kg or €30/hd wiped off his price at €1.83/kg meaning he ended the week at €1,098/hd.
So the difference in overall average prices for bullocks on the Ringside table has tightened to such an extent that it ranged just 2c/kg from the lightest at €1.85/kg back to €1.83/kg for those heavier 600kg animals.
When average prices across all the weights are bound that close together, it gives buyers a far greater sense of what is achievable.
On the heifer table your 350-399kg animal rose 2c/kg to €1.83/kg, or €640-730/hd.
Price in the 400-499kg section rose 5c/kg to €1.90/kg, or €760-948/hd. The 500-599kg heifer also rose 5c/kg to 1.97/kg (€985-1,180/hd).
The 600kg+ heifer, however, slipped by 5c/kg to €1.99/kg.
All in all, though. it was a mart week when the unexpected did more good than harm.
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