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Those who stood back for Brexit are now moving

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Junior star: Martin Ryan of Copperfield House, Cabra, Thurles, Co Tipperary with Goldstar Osanna, Junior Champion at the Irish Charolais Cattle Society Premier Show and Sale of heifers at GM Mart, Tullamore on Saturday. She sold for €11,000 for export to Northern Ireland

Junior star: Martin Ryan of Copperfield House, Cabra, Thurles, Co Tipperary with Goldstar Osanna, Junior Champion at the Irish Charolais Cattle Society Premier Show and Sale of heifers at GM Mart, Tullamore on Saturday. She sold for €11,000 for export to Northern Ireland

Junior star: Martin Ryan of Copperfield House, Cabra, Thurles, Co Tipperary with Goldstar Osanna, Junior Champion at the Irish Charolais Cattle Society Premier Show and Sale of heifers at GM Mart, Tullamore on Saturday. She sold for €11,000 for export to Northern Ireland

The surge in buying that started two weeks ago continued last week as feedlot and farmers went head to head.

There are many elements to the cattle trade, elements that spur men to delve deeper into their cheque books at certain times than at others. In the spring it is often-impending grass growth that pushes prices higher, at other times it's improving factory prices.

However, Stephen Hannon of Ballymote in Sligo and John Osbourne of Kilcullen in Kildare both reckon that buyers who may have stood back from buying because of the uncertainty around Brexit are now finding they have to move regardless.

The issues are simple. If you don't buy now you risk missing out on both numbers, plus are there end-of-year tax implications if you leave your sheds empty?

There's a contradiction: in the year when Irish beef prices have been regularly the worst in Europe, some finishers are now in a panic to acquire stock to avoid falling foul of the tax man!

That said, the focus among buyers remains very much on in-spec animals, with many marts reporting prices for those better animals up by as much as €50/hd. Out-of-spec stock, on the other hand, continue to attract only limited interest.

With reports that some sales had upwards of a quarter of the bullocks presented failing the in-spec test, there is now a two-tier market.

In the lower tier, regardless of quality, are a cadre of bullocks and in some cases heifers that the market has decided are worth a €100-150/hd less.

Realistically, the majority of out-of-spec stock are over 500kg, with the issue being they are close to or over 30 months but I've seen lighter animals discounted because the herd they come from was non-quality-assured.

Hence, despite very positive reports that stores were up as much as €50/hd last week, when you average out all the figures on the bullock table you find that overall average prices for those animals over 500kg fell slightly.

Things on the heifer side were more positive as the majority of averages closed the week 3-9c/kg higher.

An issue coming down the tracks is what is to become of the increasing numbers of male progeny from the dairy herd, particularly if the mother is a Jersey. Extreme Jerseys have poor conformation and a very limited weight potential.

Those buying in the future must insist that the breed of the dam is clearly shown on mart boards. It can be a real sickener to discover that that Friesian, Angus or Hereford calf, or light store you just bought has a Jersey mother.

 

In the know...

Listowel

With the return of feedlot buyers ringside, Barney O'Connell noticed an improvement across all quality-assured cattle, with quality Hereford and Angus bullocks from 550-600kg making around the €1.70/kg mark.

"Cattle are up €30-50/hd in three weeks," Barney confirmed.

Ballymote

Although heavy out-of-spec cattle were a harder sell, Stephen Hannon reported that with more farmers active, the trade for in-spec stock moved very well.

"Your good 400-450kg bullock was a brisk trade with prices in the €2.15-2.20/kg range," he said.

Dairy types also moved up a notch with prices for the better ones averaging from €1.70-1.75/kg. On the weanling side a good 330-400kg bull sold from €650-700/hd.

Stephen's summary was: "More activity and improving prices for the right animal."

Kilcullen

John Osbourne reckons he has seen a bounce of €20-50/hd in the price of stores over the last two weeks.

Sample prices last week included five 433kg red Limousin bullocks at €2.38/kg, with three 552kg Charolais averaging €2.21/kg.

The heifer trade was equally lively for the good one, while on the weanling side the 280-400kg bull also cracked on well.

However, John noted that the 500-550kg bull was "stuck" at €2/kg, while in the 600kg+ section prices didn't get above €1.80/kg. Out-of-spec stock continued to be a difficult trade.

Ballinakill

There was another good-size sale here, with quality well spec'd stock a strong trade, while anything out of spec was "very difficult".

Heavy bullocks sold from €1.80-2.20/kg with forward stores making €1.0-2.30/kg. Lighter stores made €2.00-2.40/kg.

Beef heifers made €1.95-2.25/kg, with stores ranging from €2.00-2.25/kg.

Headford

Prices for bullocks here ranged from €1.24-2.43/kg as once again quality and spec dictated pricing.

Two 540kg Limousins claimed top spot in the €/kg over the weight stakes at €1,230/hd. Heifers sold from €1.61-2.54/kg. Among the weanling bulls, prices averaged €1.44-3.10/kg, with a 330kg Charolais catching the eye at €930 or €2.82/kg. Prices for the heifer weanlings ran from €1.63-3.10/kg.

Ballinarobe

Numbers here eased a little last week but with quality continuing to dictate prices, trade remained steady.

Sample prices among the heifers included a 515kg Limousin X which made €2.09/kg; a 420kg Charolais saw €2.35/kg before the hammer fell; while a 315kg Limousin drove on to €2.46/kg.

On the bullock side, €2.19/kg had you bringing home a 515kg Limousin, while two 495kg Charolais weren't out of this world at €2.11/kg.

Enniscorthy

Trade here improved as more buyers moved to close out their winter requirements. Beef bullocks sold from €1,110-1,560/hd with forward stores €1,000-1,370.

Heavy Friesian bullocks made €720-1,040/hd with lighter lots selling from €420-700/hd. Light continentals sold from €710-1,050/hd. Beef heifers made from €1,080-1,495/hd, with stores making €560-1,280/hd.

Indo Farming