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Bullock prices ease as buyers keep powder dry

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Three and easy: These February 2019-born Simmental-cross weanlings, weighing 280 Kg, sold for €620/hd at Kilcullen Mart. Photo: Roger Jones

Three and easy: These February 2019-born Simmental-cross weanlings, weighing 280 Kg, sold for €620/hd at Kilcullen Mart. Photo: Roger Jones

Three and easy: These February 2019-born Simmental-cross weanlings, weighing 280 Kg, sold for €620/hd at Kilcullen Mart. Photo: Roger Jones

Whether it was the immediacy of Brexit or concerns over how the Corona virus may impact our trade with China, there was a downward adjustment among mart prices for bullocks last week.

Prices for everything from 400kg up slipped back by 3-8c/kg, equating to a €24-30/hd fall among the 400-500kg store, and €48+ once you went over 600kg.

Sandwiched in between, the 500-599kg fared a bit better, slipping only 3c/kg on average or €15-18/hd.

The 300-399kg bullock by contrast gained 4c/kg, a rise that while surprising in a week when everything else on the bullock table declined was possibly not totally unexpected as those lighter stores have not seen anything like the bounce of other weight divisions since the start of the year.

Also moving up last week were heifer prices, with average gains of 2c/kg in the 500-599kg section to 9c/kg in the 350-399kg division.

With the bullocks down and the heifers up you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a sort of strange market symmetry, and maybe it is, but would you put money on it?

The reality is figures among the lighter weights on the heifer side are sometimes influenced by those buying for breeding as well as those in the fattening game, while on the bullock side the market is beef-orientated only.

Hence with factory prices moving only very slowly, those buying bullocks last week eased off the juice a little as they waited to see exactly where the trade may be going.

That said, several marts reported that they were beginning to see summer grazers among their attendances. While a number became actively involved, a good number of others were there purely to observe, I'm told.

With fodder still relatively plentiful the temptation is always there to buy.

And if the worst comes to the worst, a round feeder in the corner of a dry field should solve most problems, short term.

One thing that I don't see influencing the trade is the outcome of the general election.

I can't recall a previous election where the farming community and rural Ireland appear to be little more than an afterthought among those seeking our vote.

I find this lack of interest among our main political parties amazing, given that we've just come out of a period of unrest that saw beef farmers effectively shut down production in a way never before seen.

With four days to go to polling, it's like politicians on all sides are intent on creating the impression that the protests never happened through the simple ploy of ignoring rural communities.

 

In the know...

Mountbellew

On the bullock side, €2/kg was a not-bad average for the better type, as illustrated by a 540kg Charolais at €1,040 with the same weight Limousin a shade better at €1,050 and a 480kg Limousin-cross making €950. On the heifer side a 380kg Charolais-cross saw the hammer at €850 while a 495kg Charolais-cross clicked €1,050.

Best price in €1/kg among the dry cows saw a 580kg Limousin make €1.70/kg.

Baltinglass

The 45th annual bullock and bull show and sale brought forth a cracking selection of quality here, with prices moving very well.

Samples among the lighter Limousins included a 292kg at €890, a 313kg at €860, an impressive €970 for a 343kg, and €1,120 paid for a 410kg.

Moving to the more forward types, a 580kg Simmental changed hands for €1,330. A 755kg Simmental made €1,610 while a 1,060kg Limousin sold for €2,080.

Carnew

Here too it was show and sale time but it was the ladies who took centre stage. There was a huge turnout of 1,300hd, with exceptional quality on show among both beef and store stock.

Demand was helped by strong contingents from Northern Ireland and the shipping fraternity as well as Southern feeders.

Top price among the heifers was €2,220 for a 516kg Limousin, with the best cow a 940kg selling for €2,250.

In general factory heifers sold for €2.00-2.50/kg, with butcher types making €2.10-2.85/kg, while store heifers sold for €230-300/hd over the €1/kg.

Ennis

Those in bull finishing game had some choice lots to choose from, especially in the 420-520kg range.

Sample prices included a 435kg Charolais at €2.62/kg, a 535kg Charolais at €2.47/kg and a 505kg Limousin that made €2.35/kg.

Once you went under 400kg you were into €3.00-3.40/kg for the best Charolais and Limousins.

The weanling heifer trade was a shade easier with prices back around €20/hd. That didn't stop a 245kg Limousin from making €3.12/kg or a 370kg Charolais hitting €2.70/kg, however.

Stronger numbers of calves saw Friesian bulls selling from €55-85/hd, while continentals made up to €360/hd.

Blessington

The early bird gets the worm they say and in the cattle game it's also no harm to get out early. And here a number of customers were buying ahead of the spring grass posse.

Prices ranged from €420-660/hd with the €1/kg for bullocks from 400-500kg, while heavier stores made €560-840/hd with the €1/kg.

Store heifers of 500kg and over sold for €500-735 th the weight, with those from 400-500kg making €425-650 over the €1/kg..

Lighter lots averaged €300-485 over.

Prices for cull cows ranged from €300-645 with the €1/kg to €100-300 over for feeder types.

Hereford and Angus bull calves made €100-225/hd, with Friesian bulls making €30-90/hd.

Indo Farming