Another blow as bullock prices stagger backwards

These 2 weanling Simmental cross born on April 17 and April 18 2018 and weithing 320kg sold for €580 at Macroom on Saturday. Picture Denis Boyle
These 2 weanling Simmental cross born on April 17 and April 18 2018 and weithing 320kg sold for €580 at Macroom on Saturday. Picture Denis Boyle
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

After the previous week's general drop in prices, the latest figures contain more bad news.

However, there were some positives on the heifer front: those animals from 400-600kg+ went up on average by 1-7c/kg. The biggest movers came among the lesser-quality animals, with those in the 500-600kg+ category gaining 8-9c/kg.

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These three Limousin cross steers, born 18/3/2018, with an average weight of 403kgs sold for €950 each. Picture Denis Boyle
These three Limousin cross steers, born 18/3/2018, with an average weight of 403kgs sold for €950 each. Picture Denis Boyle

Moving down the weights to the 350-399kg section, the story isn't so good, however, as those lighter heifers fell away by 8c/kg (€28-32/hd) to average €2.10/kg.

The bullock table offers fairly grim reading.

These two Aberdeen Angus Cross Steers with an average weight of 507kg (born 14/2/2017 and 24/2/2017) sold for that sold for €1,030/hd
These two Aberdeen Angus Cross Steers with an average weight of 507kg (born 14/2/2017 and 24/2/2017) sold for that sold for €1,030/hd

In the week that it was announced that there would be an aid package worth €100m to be divided among cattle farmers, bullock prices at marts across the country staggered backwards.

The 600kg+ animal was the worst affected as it tanked by 11c/kg or €66/hd to average overall at €1.99/kg - dipping below €2.00/kg for the first time since March.

This 625kg Limousin cross cow born 9/4/2007 sold for €820
This 625kg Limousin cross cow born 9/4/2007 sold for €820

The reason for this decline is the instability in factory prices. Last week factories pulled prices for bullocks by 5c/kg to €3.90-3.95/kg.

That magic figure of €4.00/kg which seemed to be coming within the grasp of the majority of finishers over the last few weeks has evaporated.

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And with it the optimism ringside that things were at last starting to come right.

There was a trickle-down effect from those losses in the 600kg+ section.

This 425kg weanling Simmental cross born 21/1/2019 sold for €885
This 425kg weanling Simmental cross born 21/1/2019 sold for €885

At marts across the country, the 500-599kg animal lost 6c/kg on our Ringside table, down to €1.99/kg. The 400-499kg section dropped 3c/kg to €2.06/kg, while the 300-399kg bullock was unchanged at €1.98/kg.

As we come into June with a spring behind us that was six weeks better than 2018 and current grass growth excellent, these figures are not good.

This 690kg Aberdeen Angus Bull born 1/12/2016 went for €1,800
This 690kg Aberdeen Angus Bull born 1/12/2016 went for €1,800

With factory prices nervous (this week's quotes are back 5-10c/kg on the high of two weeks ago) and Theresa May's announcement that she will be stepping down as Prime Minister, Brexit with all its uncertainties is back on the agenda.

All of which means the watchword at the moment for those thinking of investing in the cattle business is caution - do not over extend.

This 800kg Limousin cow born 20/6/2016 sold for €1,380
This 800kg Limousin cow born 20/6/2016 sold for €1,380

Macroom: All kinds of everything as prices stay steady

Macroom is one of six marts at the centre of the Cork Marts group. Now long established, the mart in Macroom dominates the livestock trade immediately west of Cork city to the Kerry border.

Current mart manager Sean Leahy gives a musical twist to the story. "When you think of Macroom and cattle, think of Dana's 'All Kinds of Everything'. We have them all, from Friesians, Hereford and Angus right through to the best U grades."

This 630kg Fresian cow born 23/4/20113 sold for €640
This 630kg Fresian cow born 23/4/20113 sold for €640

Referring to his most recent sale Leahy says that numbers were possibly a little less, due to men being at silage. On the prices side, he thought things were "steady" but maybe "a little easier in places".

On the day Macroom's "all kinds of everything" saw a batch of six 490kg Angus bullocks make €1,030/hd and three 515kg Charolais clicking €1,135/hd. On the heifer side three 475kg Limousins sold for €1,105/hd, with two at 550kgs making €1,240/hd.

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1 Ballina

Numbers here were back on previous weeks, but Billy Loftus reckoned both forward cattle and cull cows were stronger. "400-500kg bullocks made up to €700 with the weight. Your good Charolais and Limousin made €1,100 to €1,200," Billy told me. Cull cows, which possibly represent the cheapest option if you're working the seven-month system to claim your entitlements, were reported as being up to €40/hd on the previous week. Angus and Hereford bullock made from €2.00/kg to €2.20/kg.

2. Mountbellew

Numbers here remained steady, although numbers of dry cows and cows with calves at foot were less. Sample prices from the bullock side included two 507kg Limousins who made €2.17/kg, two 467kg Charolais at €2.33/kg and a 465kg Limousin at €2.24/kg. Better Friesian bulls sold for €120-210/hd. The best of the weanling heifers saw a selection of 280-320kg Charolais sell for €2.36-2.81/kg.

3. Tullow

Weanling bulls suitable for export sold for €2.65-3.00/kg, with plainer lots making €2.40-2.70/kg. A smaller show of calves saw Hereford and Angus heifers sell for €100-210/hd; Angus and Hereford bulls made €160-280/hd, with the very tops hitting €380/hd. There were also plenty of customers for the lighter store bullock, with Hereford and Angus selling for €1.90-2.10/kg. Friesian stores made €1.70-1.80/kg, while a lively trade for continental stores saw prices average €2.20-2.70/kg. Beef and forward heifers sold for €700-950 along with the €1/kg, while forward bullocks sold for €650-1,020 over.

4. Castlerea

Numbers remain good-to-steady, with demand for 'short keep' and quality stores strong. On the bullock side the top call saw a 385kg Charolais hit €3.05/kg, with a good numbers from 450-550kg making €2.45-2.70/kg. Among the heifers, quality prices included a 475kg Simmental that sold for €2.68/kg, a 475kg Angus at €2.56/kg and a 490kg Charolais that sold for €2.80/kg. Your heavy continental cull cow typically sold for €1.80-2.10/kg in a strong trade. Prices for dairy cross calves ranged from €15/hd to €110/hd, with Hereford and Angus types making from €180-285/hd.

5. Raphoe

Another good entry of stock saw bullocks and bulls sell for €2.00-2.80/kg in a brisk trade, with Friesian bulls making €1.50-1.85/kg. On the heifer side, prices ranged from €2.00/kg to a table-topping €3.00/kg. Dry cows made €650-1,510/hd.

6. Ballybay

Seamus McCarvill said his numbers were getting smaller but noted that cull cows saw no fall-off in entries, with the best of the continentals making up to €2.10/kg and Friesians selling for €1.30-1.40/kg. Your good forward 500-600kg store bullock sold for €2.50-2.70/kg, with those in the 400-500kg bracket making €2.40-2.75/kg. Plainer lots ranged from €1.10-2.00/kg. Weanling prices in general ran from €2.60-2.80/kg, with the tops seeing €3.00/kg.

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