Calf prices slide to €40-€60 per head as marts' numbers increase
Calf prices have taken a hit this week with shipping-type Friesian bulls dropping back €40-60/hd as the numbers on offer rose sharply.
Mart managers in the south reported a definite easing in the trade over the last week as the number of plainer Friesians increased and shippers replaced farmers as the primary buyers.
The prices being offered for calves out of farmyards has also fallen this week, with farmers contacted by the Farming Independent reporting that €45-50/hd was the general offer for two to three-week-old Friesian bulls.
While farmers continued to give €80-120/hd for stronger Friesian bulls in some marts this week - and even up to €150/hd in exceptional cases - managers said this category of stock accounted for just 10-15pc of overall numbers and the calves had to be five to six weeks old. Shippers dominated the trade for plainer Friesian bulls, with €40-60/hd taking out the vast bulk of those bought for export.
A two-tier market was also reported by Jim Bushe from New Ross Mart. Mr Bushe said a significant price differential has opened up between "strong calves" and "soft" or younger calves.
The bulk of the shipper-type Friesian bulls sold for €40-60/hd, with poorer calves making as little as €30/hd and exporters paying a top of €80/hd. Stronger Friesian bulls made up to €120/hd, while six-week-old square British-Friesians made from €120/hd to €220/hd.
There was lively demand for continental bulls, with farmers generally paying €170-350/hd. However, up to €500 was paid for top quality Belgian Blue and Charolais bulls. Although 600 calves were on offer on Saturday last, Mr Bushe said numbers have been slower coming out than anticipated. In Kilkenny Mart shippers generally paid from €30-80/hd for Friesian bulls, depending on their age. Auctioneer, George Candler said €120-140/hd was paid by farmer buyers for the stronger Friesians, with Hereford bulls making €280-310/hd.
Seamus Scallan of Wicklow Calf Company attributed the drop in calf prices to increased numbers and the continuing uncertainty surrounding live exports.