When any event happens, the reason behind it is always open to scrutiny and interpretation.
For example in this column last week I suggested that many of the Friesian-type bullocks presented for sale at present in the 400-499kg category might not "have had a lot to recommend them", judging from their ringside prices at a time when factory prices continue to rise.
(Factory base quotes this week for bullocks run from €4.15-4.30/kg which depending on where you are and the quality you're selling is up 5-10c/kg, which follows on from last week's 5c/kg increase).
Leaving immediate factory prices aside, Noel Corcoran of Kanturk wondered whether some of those much maligned and harder-sold lighter stores at marts might not just be the cattle to leave a few pounds lighter when the time comes?
It's a good question. Often the market does undervalue certain categories.
The market balances many different factors and at present the feeling is those lighter dairy Friesian types are only valued at lower prices because of the potential length of keep involved.
However, if you had the ground and a good store of winter feed and were not overly pushed on turning them too quickly, letting them grow into the money might be the way to go.
I still wouldn't fill the place with them, though. There's nothing like your Holstein Friesian to fall out of bed if factory prices start to go south.
Speaking of falling out of bed, this week's ringside tables show that on the bullock table everything took a bit of a tumble last week, while on the heifer table the reverse was largely the case.
The reasons are possibly many and varied.
Firstly, numbers of stock were less at some sales; the number of cattle required by grass finishers is getting less as they fill up, leading to men falling away ringside and making that bit easier on those left.
The weather also played its part: good weather will often remove both buyers and sellers from the game as matters pertaining to silage moved front and centre in many areas.
The least amount of damage was done at the heavier end where your 600kg+ bullock fell back by 5c/kg to average €2.18/kg, with the better bullock easing by just 3c/kg to €2.50/kg.
That in round figures means your good R/U grade better bullock from 600-700kg, while less by between €18-21/hd, was still clocking from €1,500-1,750/hd last week.
In the 500-599kg section the overall price fall averages out at 8c/kg or from €40-48/hd, while the poorer-quality animal suffered an 11c/kg loss.
Moving into the lighter bullock section that myself and Noel discussed above, last week's returns for the 300-399kg section see averages from 11-12c/kg, while in the 400-499kg section the reduction is from 7-10c/kg.
The story last week on the heifer side was more positive with overall averages either staying static or improving by 2-6c/kg.
The biggest increase on the heifer table came in the average price of the poorer-quality animal; she jumped 13c/kg or €78/hd.
That gives you an average price for your poorer heifer of €1.99/kg, just below the magic €2.00/kg that many of the better-quality cull cows have been coming into over the last three to four months.
It's that improvement in the prices paid for those poorer-type heifers in most of the weight categories that is the major contributing factor to the fact that overall heifer averages moved upwards last week.
Noel Corcoran noted that while the forward store bullock and heifer remain the market favourite, is it possible those now harder-sold but plainer types might be where the money is in the longer run? Who’s to say that those six 360kg Friesian bullocks sold for €570/hd won’t return as much profit as those eight 401kg Herefords at €820/hd or those three 631kg Limousins at €1,545/hd. Or will it be a case that the men here who paid from €880-980/hd here for 615-660kg Friesian cull cows will be the ones with the most profit when the time comes to sell on.
This was a smaller than previously sale with beef and quality cattle holding steady while the plainer bullock was €10-15/hd easier. Beef bullocks made €750-1,100/hd with the €/kg, with beef heifers selling from €620-920/hd over the €/kg. Continental store bullocks made from €550-850/hd over the 4/kg with store heifers making €350-830/hd over the €/kg. Friesian bullocks sold from €150-670/hd with their weight. Dry cows made €550-870/hd over the weight while store cows made €150-470/hd over their weight.
There was a good show of cattle here with the trade reported as firm, with the weanling heifer possibly a little stronger. Among the top of the bull weanling prices were 365-370kg Limousins who sold for €3.09/kg, a 410kg Charolais who made €2.82 and another Limousin, weighing 405kg who made €2.81/kg. It was a similar story among the heifers with the top of the pile in Charolais and Limousins making €2.74.-3.09/kg. The €2.51/kg paid for four 293kg Aberdeen Angus heifer weanlings didn’t look to bad either.
In the calf ring here Friesians sold mainly from €40-150/hd, with Hereford and Angus making €100-300/hd. On the cull cow front, Friesian store types typically made from €1.35-1.50, with your better continental store hitting around the €1.80/kg mark. Heavy cows remained strong, with prices ranging from €1.50-1.90/kg. On the bullock side, while not the top price of the day, the 610kg Shorthorn who made €2.21/kg gives me hope that the future might not be all about stars and subsidies on the suckler side.
A strong trade saw beef and forward bullocks make €570-960/hd with the €/kg, with 500kg+ stores making €560-840/hd with the €/kg; lighter stores back to 400kg sold from €420-680/hd with their weight. Beef and butchers’ heifers made 520-880/hd with the €/kg; store heifers over 400kg made €460-700/hd with the €/kg while the 300-400kg heifer sold from €320-565hd with their weight. Friesian bull calves made €90-165/hd with Hereford and Angus bulls selling from €100-360/hd. Continental heifer calves sold from €140-285/hd.
The €3.02/kg paid for a 440kg Limousin along with other equally strong prices helped underpin a bullock trade here that was described, possibly modestly, as being just “firm”. Among some of the other better performers were a 505kg Angus bullocks who sold for €2.46/kg, a 520kg Charolais at €2.75/kg and a 640kg Limousin at €2.54/kg. It was a similar story in the heifer ring, with the best of the best seeing prices range from €2.50-3.08/kg, with heavier heifers noticeably strong. The weanling trade was also in positive territory for the good one, but plainer stock eased.
The improving weather up Wicklow way helped the trade push your good quality continental store bullock along very nicely, with examples including a 487kg Limousin making €2.73/kg and a 450kg Limousin at €2.80/kg, while at the lighter end a nice 370kg Limousin made €2.67/kg. Plainer bullocks sold from €1.78-2.30/kg. Heifer prices stayed similar to the previous week at €2.40-2.90/kg, with plainer sorts making €2.12-2.40/kg. Fat cows continued to see a top of €2.00/kg.