GALLERY: Bullock prices the one bright light from a sluggish week at the marts
Pictures and Prices from Athenry Mart
Before receiving the ringside figures for last week, I had expected mart prices to show some signs of stability even allowing for recent wobbles in factory prices.
There was even the possibility that prices might strengthen as men with cattle killed hit a market place that should be running seasonally tight on forward stock.
However, looking at the ringside figures, the trade appears to be sluggish. That said, the numbers aren't really there yet to give a proper indication of what direction the trade is heading in.
There are some men anxious enough to replace stock but the combination of bad weather, falling factory prices, limited mart numbers and questions about how much fodder is about are all feeding into an air of uncertainty around the trade.
The bullock table, however, does show some touches of upward movement in about half the weight categories but all the heifer averages headed south last week.
The issue of a lack of numbers, I suspect, had possibly more to do with how the heifer performed last week than a sudden and chronic collapse in confidence.
Turning to the more numerous bullocks, we see that despite factories having squeezed beef prices by up to 10c/kg since Christmas, demand ringside for the 600kg+ bullock improved on average by 5c/kg last week to €2.08/kg while the top end bullock rose 8c/kg to average €2.39/kg.
The total span of price difference in the 600kg+ section is 80/ckg or a minimum of €480/hd - that being the difference between your better continental at €2.45/kg or €1,470/hd verses your poorer quality Friesian at €1.65/kg or €990/hd.