Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 25 June 2018

Cattle prices surge by up to €300/head

Exceptional mart demand for top class forward stores but weak trade for lighter stock

2/6/2018 Carrigallen Mart
Lot Number 557
Weight 430K
DOB 20/9/17
Breed Sex Bull
Price €1170
Photo Brian Farrell
2/6/2018 Carrigallen Mart Lot Number 557 Weight 430K DOB 20/9/17 Breed Sex Bull Price €1170 Photo Brian Farrell

Martin Ryan

A booming trade in the marts for heavy cattle has resulted in top-quality forward stores making €250 to €300 more than this time last year.

The surge in grass growth in recent weeks, and a continuation of firm prices for finished beef, has boosted demand for forward stores and prices have rocketed as a result.

Mart auctioneers and managers report the best of the trade is for heavy stores.

Prices for 500-600kg quality continental stores are up €250-€300 on last year's levels on the back of strong competition between mainly farmer beef finishers.

The lift in forward store prices has gathered pace over the last week, despite efforts by the factories to take some heat out of the beef trade.

Kilkenny-based livestock auctioneer George Candler said the current prices suggested that farmers were confident of cattle prices holding through to autumn.

"The fancy forward stores are making very fancy money and it is the farmers who are buying them for finishing.

"They'd be up at least €250/hd on this time last year, but they [farmers] are not shy in paying it, so they must have confidence in the beef prices holding," said Mr Candler.

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Continental forward store bullocks sold for €2.40-2.80/kg in Kilkenny Mart, with heifers making €2.20-2.40/kg.

However, the trade was not as strong for lighter and plainer cattle.

Auctioneer George Candler pictured outside the Kilkenny Mart premises at Cillin Hill Photo: Roger Jones
Auctioneer George Candler pictured outside the Kilkenny Mart premises at Cillin Hill Photo: Roger Jones

"Plainer types in both the bullocks and heifers are more difficult to sell, especially if they have a dairy influence in them," said Mr Candler.

Martin McNamara of Clare Marts described the trade for forward store bullocks as "exceptional".

The quality continental forward store bullocks made up to €2.80/kg, while up to €3.70/kg was paid for choice continental steers in the 400-500kg range.

Forward bullocks made up to €885 over the €1/kg, while the forward heifers made up to €900 with their weight.

At Roscommon Mart bullocks made up to €2.57/kg, with heifers selling for up to €2.61/kg.

The price surge, however, is not being passed back to the younger animals, with prices for lighter stores remaining stagnant.

Lighter weights

"Feeders appear to be less interested in the animals they will have to winter before finishing, and the plain lots in the lighter weights are a poor enough trade," one observer explained.

Autumn beef finishers will need at least 80c/kg more than the prices available last year to recover the higher store prices.

Over recent weeks, the average price paid by the processors has been around 40c/kg above the autumn 2017 levels, but prices are beginning to come under downward pressure from factory buyers.

IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods urged farmers to ignore talk from factory agents of a possible easing in prices.

"The negative rumours are a trap to try and squeeze out very tight supplies and to undermine confidence in the trade," Mr Woods claimed.

Des Morrison of ICMSA maintained that cattle prices were holding but that factories were using their own supply of finished cows to pull prices back 5-10c/kg.

He said most cows were being bought for 360-370c/kg, although more was being paid for good quality fat cows.

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