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Buyers vying to get hands on quality stock as numbers fall

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In the thick of it: Kevin Quinn gets in a bid at Mohill Mart. Photo: Brian Farrell

In the thick of it: Kevin Quinn gets in a bid at Mohill Mart. Photo: Brian Farrell

Brian Farrell

In the thick of it: Kevin Quinn gets in a bid at Mohill Mart. Photo: Brian Farrell

Part of the reason mart prices have started so strongly this year is that those buying fear the traditional spring mart price bounce - and as suckler numbers continue to fall, perhaps they are also afraid that if they wait too long those better animals just won't be there.

Patsy Smith of Dowra in Leitrim for example told me that his overall average for 400-500kg bull weanlings reached €2.46/kg, with the top call being €2.85/kg. His 300-400g bulls averaged €2.62/kg to a top €3.25/kg.

Maurice Brosnan in Gortatlea told me that the best of his lighter Belgian Blue heifers easily made €3/kg, with 350-500kg heifers averaging €2.50/kg.

On the bull side his 350-450kg animals topped out at €2.60/kg, with heavier lots hitting a top of €2.40/kg. On the dairy side 200-300kg bulls sold from €2.10-2.20/kg, while 350-500kg dairy types averaged €2.20-2.30/kg.

In Ennis a cracking trade for quality store bullocks saw four 451kg Charolais make €2.70/kg (€1,220/hd) while a single weighing 590kg saw the hammer at €1,550.

The heifer trade was also very strong here, with the conformation potential of a 460kg Charolais raising her price to €2.64/kg; and she wasn't alone.

Looking at a raft of other mart reports over the weekend, it's a similar story.

If you've got good-conformation stock, be they heifers or bullocks from 400-600kg, there are men out there that'll open them from €2.30-2.40/kg and keep going until the opposition wilts.

But what of the humble Friesian bullock and his dairy cross Angus and Hereford comrades?

The overall average price of your Friesian bullock on our Ringside table below shows his average price spread as quite tight, varying just 5c/kg. The lighter 300-399kg store averaged €1.61/kg last week, with the 400-499kg division coming out at €1.65/kg, while the 500-599kg and 600kg+ divisions averaged €1.66/kg and €1.64/kg respectively. Overall, average prices for Hereford and Angus types saw a spread across the entire table of 16c/kg, with the 300-399kg section best at €2.02/kg back to €1.86/kg for 600kg+ types.

There is no doubt that those buying, while not ignoring Friesians, Hereford or Angus, are hell-bent on acquiring the better continental if at all possible. And more precisely, the top end of that market. How else do you explain another 10c/kg rise to €2.41/kg in the average price at the top end of the market for continentals in the 500-599kg section and a similar 10c/kg rise to €2.37/kg among those better continentals in the 600kg+ section?

A factor at some marts that is definitely helping the trade is the number of Northern buyers.

With sterling trading at 85p to the euro they are in a position to drive on. It also helps that R4L bullocks in the UK are generally trading at €4.05/kg, and €4.15/kg in Scotland.

 

In the know...

1. Gortatlea

As weanling sales go, this one was big. Despite the huge numbers, trade was well maintained to strong, with Maurice Brosnan telling me: "The top of the lighter Belgian Blue heifers made up to €3-plus, with forward 350-500kg Charolais and Limousins averaging €2.50/kg."

Best of the weanling bulls at the light end were four 280kg Charolais that sold for €915/hd. The 350-450kg bracket topped out at around €2.60/kg, with heavier lots hitting a top of €2.40/kg.

Dairy type bulls of 200-300kg made €2.10-2.20/kg. Prices for 350-500 dairy types averaged €2.20-2.30/kg.

2. Dowra

A huge yard of cattle dominated by Charolais and Limousins met a very strong trade, with some lots seeing exceptional prices.

Weanling heifers under 300kg averaged €2.05-3.00/kg, with the overall average working out at €2.48/kg.

Those in the 300-400kg bracket averaged €2.15/kg, with the top of the market seeing €2.45/kg. 500kg+ heifers sold from €2.00-2.50/kg.

Weanling bulls under 300kg averaged €2.68/kg, with the best making €3.20/kg. Bulls from 400-500kg averaged €2.46/kg, with a top of €2.85/kg.

3. New Ross

While numbers here were reduced last Saturday, Jim Bushe was still able to report a very good trade across the board. "We had lots of customers for everything, especially quality," Jim told me. Beef bullocks sold from €600-930 with the €1/kg, with beef heifers making €500-880 with the €1/kg for Hereford and Angus types.

Heavy Friesian bullocks made €400-585 over their weight, with lighter lots commanding €255-400 over. Continental store heifers sold from €420-665 with the €1/kg, while Hereford and Angus stores made €380-515 with the weight.

4. Hereford

Bullocks ranged from €1.68-2.59/kg here with that top €2.59/kg price going to a 405kg Limousin that made €1,050.

Best over the weight price also saw a Limousin take top honours as 565kg made €1,400. Store heifers sold from €1.48-2.86/kg, with the best price per kg seeing a pair of 348kg Charolais making €1,000/hd, while a 230kg Charolais claimed that €2.86/kg top spot.

Weanling heifers sold from €2.23-2.87/kg, while weanling bulls made €1.83-3.13/kg.

5. Kanturk

Who says the suckler business is finished? A special sale of pure-bred Hereford stock here saw cows with calves at foot making up to €3,000, while one ten-month-old Hereford heifer sold for €1,820.

Looking at the non-pedigree trade, best on offer among the bull weanlings were four 410kg Charolais at €910/hd, while three 326kg Charolais weanling heifers sold for €830/hd.

The reality of the beef business is quality and conformation really do matter to those fattening. This was the message in relation to a 640kg Belgian Blue bullock at €1,240, you're just not quite up there?

6. Ballinrobe

A special sale of continental heifers saw some very fine quality go under the hammer here.

Samples included three 573kg Limousins sell for €1,460/hd or €2.55/kg, while a red 585kg Limousin made €2.59/kg.

Among the lighter heifers were a 380kg Charolais that sold for €3.07/kg, while a 445kg Angus made €2.48/kg.

On the bullock side you had a 535kg Charolais-cross at €2.46/kg, a 470kg Belgian Blue at €2.43/kg, with a 400kg Angus making €2.31/kg. Best of the weanling bulls was a 335kg Charolais that sold for €2.94/kg.

7. Roscommon

Maura Quigley continues to report strong numbers for the time of year as sellers move early to take advantage of the current strong trade. "We are seeing cattle that might otherwise be expected around March time," she told me.

On the prices front bullocks here averaged from €2.24/kg to a top of €3.04/kg reached off of a respectable €1.65/kg base.

Indo Farming