Some claimed over the weekend that the edge was beginning to go off Northern demand for heavy cattle at marts.
Yet others I spoke with disagreed citing very strong competition for heavy cattle from smaller Northern processors and bigger wholesalers. I’m more inclined to think that as factory prices appear to be stabilising last week saw us reaching a plateau in relation to mart prices for beef.
A number of marts including Kilkenny and Mohill took the initiative last week and included special beef sections aimed at those in the slaughter or export sections of the business, as well as those who buy forward heavy stock for further feeding. Prices in general ranged from €2.00-2.30/kg for bullocks and heifers, with heavy cull cows ranging from €1.50-2.00/kg.
George Candler in Kilkenny commented that it was noticeable that while the number of potential sellers rose significantly because of their special sale, the number of cattle presented generally ranged from just one to three animals.
And it would appear from the Ringside returns from last week those who decided to encourage farmers to bring heavy cattle to the marts didn’t do the trade any harm at all as overall average prices for both 600kg+ bullocks and heifers improved. Your 600kg+ bullock rose 3c/kg on average to €1.95/kg buoyed by a 7c/kg increase in the price of your better conformation animal to €2.28/kg. The average price of your 600kg+ heifer rose 11c/kg and finished out the week on €2.15/kg, with the better sorts averaging 13c/kg higher at €2.40/kg.
While the bigger movements on the price table were restricted to those heavier animals, everything else also moved positively - though not by as much. On the bullock table everything below 600kgs averaged from 1-3c/kg while on the heifer table the overall average improvement below 600kgs was in the 3-5c/kg range. While it would be tempting to speculate that the big surge in prices and numbers has passed, as we round the corner into August those ringside will watch developments in relation to factory prices very closely
There is good news on the live export side this week, with the resumption of the live shipping of bulls from Cork to Libya by Curzon Livestock. A mixed load ofaround 2,000 Friesians and Continental bulls is due to sail tomorrow, Wednesday. The Friesians are reported to be in 200-400kg range, with the continentals averaging from 400-600kgs. Speaking with a source close to the action I was told that it is hoped to have another shipment organised in four to six weeks.
So with factory prices appearing stable, demand from Northern factories and wholesalers helping to buoy the heavy trade, and with the likes of Curzon Livestock going about the business of live shipping quietly and efficiently, what can possibly go wrong?
As well as their normal Thursday sale, the mart team here put together a special section for heavy factory type stock.
This resulted in around two hundred heavier cattle going under the hammer.
Best of the bullocks was a 945kg Charolais that sold for €2.11/kg, while 585kg Limousin heifer suitable for breeding made €3.16/kg.
On the cull cow side, continental types sold for €1.35-2.23/kg, with Friesians making up to €1.85/kg. Among the lighter bullocks those under 500kgs sold to a top of €2.75/kg.
This is another mart which decided to take the initiative and tap into the demand for heavier stock.
“We had around 140 heavy bullocks and cows with your typical 700-740kg continental bullock making €2.20-2.25/kg,” said Stephen Hannon.
Interestingly a share of 700kg 17-18 month old Charolais bulls saw their prices average €2.40/kg.
On the dry cow side, your 600kg Friesian made up to €1.55/kg, while continental types ranged from €1.80-2.00/kg.
Among the lighter 440-460kg bullocks, prices peaked at €2.60/kg.
Northern buyers and Southern agents were also active here with beef bullocks selling from €630-1,010/hd over the €1/kg, while beef heifers averaged from €530-960 with their weight.
Heavy Friesian type bullocks sold from €385-640 with the €1/kg. On the store side continental bullocks made up to €800 with their weight, while Hereford and Angus types generally sold for €335-560 over the weight, while light Friesian types sold for €235-415 along with the €1/kg.
Continental beef cows sold from €335-800 over the €1/kg, with feeding cows selling for €145-350 over €1/kg.
Bullocks suitable for further feeding also saw some very keen interest here, while all other categories held firm.
Sample prices on the bullock side included a 435kg Charolais that sold for €1,180 while a 570kg Charolais made an impressive €1,530.
On the heifer side your choices included a 430kg Angus or Limousin both at €1,080/hd.
Among the weanling bulls was a 270kg Charolais that sold for €700, while was it possible that the buyer of the same weight Angus wasn’t going to be found wanting the second time giving €710.
All classes met a good trade with plenty of activity among beef and store buyers. Beef and forward store bullocks made from €585-940 over the €1/kg, with beef heifers selling from €530-830 over their weight.
Among the stores, continental-type bullocks averaged €440-750 with the €1/kg, with Hereford and Angus types making €360-480 over the weight. Continental store heifers sold from €385-645 over the €1/kg, with Hereford and Angus stock making €300-480 over. Beef cows sold from €280-600 over the €1/kg, with feeder types making from €140-280 over their weight.
This was another big sale. The trade has been very brisk over the last few weeks, and that was the case again with this latest sale. Three 471kg Hereford bullocks that are heading for grass averaged €940/hd, with a similar return recorded for six 350kg Angus at €770/hd. On the heifer side samples included four 632kg Limousins at €1,310/hd, six 360kg Angus at €760/hd and four 300kg Herefords at €665/hd.
A large entry for the time of year saw bullocks average from €1.32-2.80/kg. A 590kg Charolais was the outstanding sale at €1,500 or €2.54/kg. Heifer prices ranged from €1.49/kg to a top of €2.54/kg in the case of a 345kg Limousin. The strong demand for beef saw a 710kg Charolais sell for for €1,590. Bull weanlings sold from €1.77/kg to €3.08/kg.