Some marts are reporting prices of over €4/kg for continental yearlings, while better 300-400kg Herefords and Angus are averaging more than their heavy cousins
Although numbers were affected by the snow last week, the trade was not, and there was a surge in buying of yearling stock, with some marts reporting prices for continentals above €4/kg.
Younger, lighter bullocks averaged 7c/kg higher overall at €2.73/kg, with the better one also up 7c/kg at €3.15/kg.
Demand for those 300-400kg steers was so strong that mart returns last week harked back to pre-Covid days, when the dearest animals/kg were traditionally at the lighter end of the spectrum, with the prices/kg reducing as you went up the weight divisions.
This all changed when the pandemic struck three years ago as international disruptions saw food companies stockpile supplies, with increased supermarket sales off-setting the loss of trade in the hospitality sector.
At the same time, feedlots and bigger feeders started buying more forward animals. This pushed up prices for the shorter-keep animal, to the point that the whole trade inverted, with prices per/kg now strongest at the heavier end.
Last week, the dearest (per kg)continental, Angus and Hereford bullocks were not at the heavy end but among their better types in the 300-400kg division.
Over the last two years those lighter bullocks have not really kept pace with the price increases seen among other weights. Uncertainty around feeding costs due to the war in the Ukraine — and where the heavy trade might be by the time they would be fit for slaughter — kept a lid on their mart price, compared to heavier, shorter-keep stock.
Last week, however, that all changed as farmers went after the better 300-400kg Angus, Hereford and continental with a vengeance. This took the better continental bullock to an average of €3.42/kg , with some marts reporting prices over €4/kg.
Above 400kg the better continental bullock made €3.20-3.22/kg. Demand for the better Herefords and Angus at 300-400kg lifted their average to €3.00/kg, putting them 6-10/kg above the heavier Angus and Herefords.
So do farmers feel it is better to have a lighter continental at €1,000-1,200/hd than a 500-600kg Limousin or Charolais at €1,600-1,900 or an Angus of the same weight at €900-1,200/hd, as against one at 500kg at €1,450?
Do those buying believe that the €1,000 invested in those lighter types is worth the gamble on the basis that even if factory or mart prices were to fall this autumn, what they buy now will probably have grown into the money by that time?
In general, last week saw a strong drive for Angus stock, with Thomas Potterton of Delvin commenting he could sell them “all day long”.
When the numbers pick up, it will be interesting to see whether those lighter types continue to perform as strongly as they did last week. And mart numbers will increase, of that there is little doubt.
“Those with cattle to sell are waiting for the grass to come because when that starts to happen, they know there will be a lot more buyers out,” said Michael Harty of Roscrea.
Buyers and sellers are both watching their fields for the first signs of spring — then the real mart fever will begin.
A strong trade for calves saw better four- to five-week Angus bulls sell for €220-350/hd, with younger, plainer bulls on €120-180/hd. Hereford bulls sold to €320 with plainer lots €150-250/hd. Friesian bulls made €30-100/hd.
A clearance sale of 38 Friesian cows, all with milk, saw prices range from €1,900-2,700/hd.
Trade for yearling stock was strong and included 277kg red Limousin bullocks selling to €890/hd with the same man showing 300kg red Limousin heifers that averaged €920/hd.
Yearling Hereford and Angus bullocks sold from €780-900/hd.
Among last week’s sales was a special Angus and Angus cross bullocks and heifers show. Factory demand drove 700kg+ Angus bullocks to €3.00-3.10/kg, with demand for dairy-bred 500-630kg Angus pushing prices to €2.80-2.96/kg.
In the lighter section farmer demand lifted general prices to €3.50-3.60/kg for 300-450kg Angus. Farmer and feedlot competition saw 350-420 Angus sell from €1,250-1,500/hd.
Friday’s sale of weanlings was equally hot, with 300-320kg continental bulls made €1,200-1,400/hd, with 450-500kg bulls on €3.00-3.30/kg.
250-270kg bulls topped out at €3.10/kg with slightly lesser quality making €2.50-2.70/kg.
Trade in general was very good but dairy-type calves were sticky. 200-300kg bull weanlings averaged €3.23/kg, with a top call of €1,170 for a 240kg Charolais. The 300-400kg section averaged 1,063/hd – €96/hd ahead of last year.
400-500kg bulls were on average €108/hd up on 12 months ago, at €1,201/hd on Saturday.
Weanling heifers were also strong with those over 500kg €347/hd better than last year, averaging €1,320/hd. The yearly difference in the 400-500kg section was €279hd, at €1,323/hd.
Numbers rose again last week with 1390 animals on offer, of which half were calves. In the calf section Friesian bulls sold for €30-100/hd, Angus bulls made €150-300/hd with Angus heifers €80-270/hd. Hereford bulls sold from €120-290/hd with heifers making €90-260/hd.
Bullocks included five 300kg Angus at €860/hd, with six 280kg Herefords making €910, while six 396kg Friesians averaged €890/hd.
Five 590kg Friesians sold to €1,400/hd with three 576kg Angus making €1,625/hd, while two 780kg Herefords averaged €2,310/hd.
Numbers last week were less because of the poor weather but that “made for a dearer trade”, according to Michael Harty.
Among the bullocks, 270-307kg Hereford and Angus sold for €810-1,000/hd while 547-595kg Angus and Herefords made €1,580-1,680.
Feedlots were active for heifers, with 450-470kgs selling for €1,300-1,450/hd. The general run of heifers made €2.60-3.10/kg with the top call going to a 605kg Charolais at €1,840.
With St Patrick’s Day falling on Friday, this week’s sale will take place on Saturday.
Numbers here were also less because of the bad weather but the number of buyers online was up, Thomas Potterton noted.
Bullocks from 400-550kg averaged €2.30/kg, with the tops making €3.03/kg. Averages in the 500-550kg section reached €2.51/kg with a 520kg Limousin getting the top call of €2.96/kg or €1,540.
At an average of €1,435/hd (2.56kg), 550-600kg bullocks were €160/hd stronger than 12 months ago while 650kg bullocks at €1,865/hd was €190/hd stronger.
The biggest jump year on year came among 500kgs+ heifers: €1,525/hd as against €1,167/hd 12 months ago – a lift of €358/hd.