Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Big gains for the heavy Friesian bullocks

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Carnew fat stock show on Saturday had some tremendous cattle with prices to match but the man with the biggest smile was the man who turned up with two 736kg Friesians.

Without being critical, the best that could be said was they were reasonably well covered and that one was maybe an O minus in grade. When the bidding was finished, however, they had made €1,300 a piece, or €1.76/kg.

Their owner emerged from the seller’s box dazed but smiling. “I didn’t see that in them,” he told me, almost breaking into a laugh.

The men bidding on them were factory agents, local or from the north, men whose mission it is on occasion to buy stock specific to some order or other that a factory needs filled.

The moral is factory buyers don’t like to lose cattle to their opposite numbers and never in public, hence the mart price on occasion can be very tasty indeed. Last week’s ringside figures show that the single biggest increase in average prices occurred in those heavy bullocks and, more specifically, the poorer quality heavy bullock, with the bottom quarter of the 600kg+ bullock rising by a major 17c/kg or €102/hd.

Their average overall price was also up significantly by 14c/kg to €2.07/kg, with the top quarter of the better stock also rising very nicely by 9c/kg to average at €2.28/kg. Indeed, my much dazed Friesian man at Carnew did extremely well at €1.76/kg, considering that the better quality Friesian averaged only 4c/kg better last week at €1.80/kg.

Before you all run away and start buying black and whites, remember that you get what you pay for — and that factories always let the lesser conformation animal fall out of bed first when the pressure is on.

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So while the top of the continentals were 51-76c/kg or from €306-456/hd ahead of the Friesians last week, there is good reason why that is. The other major movers last week were in the far lighter 300- 399kg section where average prices rose by 15c/kg, or from €45-60/hd, with the better quality animal in the top quarter, the major driver rising as he did by €16c/kg or €48-64/hd.

Compared with the those heavier 600kg animals above, there is a noticeable difference between the better continental and the poorer made Friesian. The former is at €2.84/kg or €852-1,133 versus at €1.44/kg for the latter.

To put it another way, you almost get two Friesians for every continental. Once you move into the middle ground between those lighter stock and the heavy factory types, last week’s mart prices saw a share of downward pressure with the 400-499kg bullock faring worst.

Average prices in this section fell by 4c/kg or €16-20/hd but the poorer quality animal took a hit of 12c/kg or from €48-60/ hd.

His better made comrade gained 9c/kg or €36-45/hd. Moving into the 500-599kg section, prices stabilised although the better bullock here eased back by 3c/kg or from €15-18/hd, while the overall average price and that of the bottom quarter remained unchanged on the previous week.

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Trade at New Ross was similar to the previous week with beef and forward stores selling from €535-890 with the €/kg for Hereford and Angus types, and Hereford and Angus stores selling from €400-800 with the weight. Heavy Friesian bullocks sold from €370-615 over the €/kg, while lighter Friesian stores made from €175-400 over the €/kg. Beef and butchers’ heifers made from €535-875 with the €/kg, while plainer Hereford and Angus stores made in the region of €370 with their weight. The better store made up to €725 with her weight. Beef cows sold from €380-815 over the €/kg with lighter feeding cows made from €140-400 over the €/kg.


A special sale of dry cows and heifers brought a buzz to Ballymote last week. The 400-500kg heifers made from €520-800 over the €/kg, while the heavier 500-600kg ladies saw €630-800 over the €/kg with that top price going to a 500kg Belgian Blue at €1,300. The dry cows saw store continental types making from €100-300 over the €/kg, with heavier types hitting from €400-965 with the €/kg. Dairy cows ranged from €50-300 over their weight.


Trade was “lively” at Delvin last week with bullocks under 400kg making from €1.35-2.58/kg, while at the other end the average price of the 650kg+ bullock ran from €1.91-2.16/kg. In between at €2.15/ kg you had some nice 420kg Limousins, or at €2.07/kg a 555kg Belgian Blue. If you had a black and white licence and a mind to, you could go home with Friesians in the 500-550kg bracket at prices from €1.43- 1.72/kg.


There were good numbers on offer at Roscommon last week with the trade for bullocks reported as improved. Bullocks ranged from €2.23-2.53/kg with heifers averaging from €2.25-2.48/kg. Trade for the dry cow was also better with prices ranging from €1.62-1.80/kg.


Heifers from 300-400kg made from €1.80-3.00/kg, while those from 400- 500kg made from €1.80-2.70/kg with the top of those over 500kg being €2.50/ kg. Weanling heifers made from €2-3.30/ kg with weanling bulls under 300kg making from €1.80-3.40/kg. Bulls from 300-400kg made from €1.70-3.10/kg. Cull cows made €1.70-2.10 with the best feeding cows at €1-1.80/kg.


Carnew’s 36th annual fat stock show saw factory and northern buyers compete very strongly across all categories, but especially for beef bullocks at prices from €700-1050 over the €/kg. Among the continental stores, prices ran from €550- 900 over the €/kg with Friesian feeding bulls making from €550-870 over the €/ kg. In the weanling ring, export quality bulls made from €2.70-3.57/kg with feeding bulls making from €550-870 over the €/kg.


The trade at Tullow’s show and sale, which was the day before Carnew’s Saturday sale, was no less strong with beef meeting a “blazing trade”. Factory and northern buyers had a type of “knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out” contest with prices from €720-1,000 with the €/kg. The store trade was no less strong with prices running here from €300-1,000 with the €/kg. The weanling trade saw farmers and exporters clash at up to €3/kg for the tops, with feeding bulls making from €2.20-2.75/kg.

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