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Friday 14 December 2018

Market for plain weanlings is the 'most depressed in years'

Good British Friesian weanlings generally sold for around €1/kg. Stock image / PA
Good British Friesian weanlings generally sold for around €1/kg. Stock image / PA

Martin Ryan

THE most depressing market for plain weanlings for many years has seen Friesian animals selling for well below €1/kg and struggling to make 75c/kg in cases.

A lack of confidence among beef farmers and the widespread shortage of fodder supplies is being blamed for the near collapse of demand for plain stock.

In contrast, however, a firm trade is reported for good quality continental weanlings, on the back of strong farmer buying.

This two-tier trade has resulted in a €300-€400/hd differential emerging between the price of plain cattle and that being paid for stock with U-grade potential.

As the autumn weanling sales edge towards peak numbers, mart managers and auctioneers maintained that light Friesian weanlings were worth more as calves last spring, with some lots struggling to break 75c/kg.

Good British Friesian weanlings generally sold for around €1/kg, while as low as 70c/kg has been paid for Holstein- Friesian weanlings.

However, up to €3.36/kg was paid for the top quality continental bulls last week, with choice continental heifers selling for up to €3.32/kg. Plainer lots slipped to €1.50-€1.70/kg for bulls, and back to around €1.52/kg for some of the continental heifers.

"It's the toughest trade in a long time - there is a complete lack of confidence among farmers," said George Candler of Kilkenny Mart.

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"The dairy influenced Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Friesian bulls/bullocks at 380kg or less are the most difficult to sell. Many farmers who held on to some of these animals, especially those milking, would have been financially better off if they had sold them as calves," Mr Candler maintained.

Calves bought from dairy herds for rearing were not making what they cost after feeding them for six to eight months, with exceptional quality animals necessary to make €1/kg, he remarked.

"There is good demand for the top 20pc of the continentals, potentially E or U grade animals," said Mike Kissane of Iveragh Mart in Cahirciveen, Co Kerry. However, he conceded that plainer continentals were a very poor trade.

Pointing out that farmer feeders were "buying on quality", Mr Kissane said buyers were willing to pay €1,000 for a 377kg good Limousin, while a similar weight plainer Limousin sold for €700 last week.

"There is a lot of negativity among farmers and they are selling because they realise it is not going to get any better," he explained.

"Some of them [suckler farmers] need the money and they are all concerned about the fodder situation, so they are not taking them home again," Mr Kissane added.

At Dungarvan Mart on Thursday continental weanlings sold for €1.49-€2.36/kg, and a small entry of Friesian types averaged 79c/kg.

Clearance

At Mid-Tipperary Mart, Thurles continental bulls ranged from €1.49/kg to €2.37/kg, heifers made €1.52-2.07/kg, while good Friesian bulls sold for up to €1.06/kg.

There was a full clearance at Roscommon Mart where continental weanling bulls ranged from €2.46/kg to €3.36/kg, and continental heifers sold from a top of €2.35/kg to €3.32/kg.

There was a lively trade from shippers for E and U grade weanling bulls at a show and sale at Tullow Mart on Friday, where they sold from €2.90/kg up to €3.60/kg.

The first prizewinning bull was a 480kg Belgian Blue which sold for €1,595.

Light Friesians struggling to break 75c/kg as lack of confidence takes toll on trade

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