Many farmers have made the most of the strong mart prices, but others worry that if they sell their stores or beef, they will have nothing to eat the grass, which itself has surged in the last two weeks.
If the business of cattle farming was as simple as doing a few calculations on your projected selling price versus your possible buying price, it would be easy to make decisions.
But it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Some farmers are concerned that if they sell, their farms may run a bit wild which would require next spring to be both early and dry so that they could get cattle out early to get their ground back order.
The upshot is that supplies continue to come away gradually, although last week did see some serious numbers presented in places.
Of course, one bad weather forecast and all that would probably change. Even then it’s debatable how long any really big surge in numbers would last, should the weather break, given overall mart throughout this year.
For now, though, numbers appear to be coming stronger at both the marts and factories, but in an orderly fashion.
On the price front, bullocks had a generally steady to improved week, with the heifers similar, although the 600kg+ heifer ran into rougher waters as her overall price average slipped by 8c/kg to €2.32/kg.
For bullocks, the overall average prices runs from €2.07/kg in the 300-399kg section to €2.29/kg among the 600kg+ steers, while with the heifers the range is €2.17-2.32/kg.
When you examine bullock prices by breed, however, it’s clear that something interesting is happening.
Friesian averages range from €1.62/kg for the lightest to €2.01/kg for the heaviest — a span of 39c/kg.
However, Hereford/Angus bullocks’ overall average price was consistent at €2.15/kg from 300-599kg and only lifted 6c/kg to €2.21/kg once you moved into the 600kg+ division.
This consistency in prices from one weight division to the next is further emphasised when you examine the overall average price of continental bullocks who, with the exception of the 500-599kg animal at €2.43/kg, averaged €2.38-2.39/kg overall.
Going back on my records over the years I noted that while average prices for both Hereford Angus and Friesian generally increased as you went up through the weights, as is the case currently, continental bullocks’ overall average price per kg generally reduced the heavier he got — by as much as 20c/kg from the lightest to the heaviest.
This change throws up a myriad of questions. Has that the reduction in the suckler herd actually benefitted those in the calf-to-beef fattening system or is it all just down to demand?
A good and steady trade saw the better Angus store bullock sell from €2.20-2.40/kg, while at the heavy end a 735kg Angus made €2.34/kg.
Among the continentals, four 646kg Limousins averaged €2.23/kg with a 500kg Charolais seeing the hammer at €2.60/kg.
Friesian bullocks continued in demand, at €1.60-1.90/kg with €2.00 also possible.
In the weanling ring three 300kg Charolais bulls made €2.66/kg, with three 395kg Limousins averaging €2.51/kg, while a 465kg red Limousin heifer, possibly gone for breeding, impressed at €2.73/kg
The numbers of weanlings coming on the market are gradually growing, with 300 bulls and 100 heifers on offer here.
The 200-350kg bull averaged €2.86/kg, with a good number comfortably making over €3/kg. From 350-450kg, bulls averaged €2.61/kg, with those above 400kgs €2.41/kg.
Heifers up to 350kg averaged €2.95/kg, with those from 350-450kg €2.64/kg. Best on show in this section was an October 2020-born 410kg Charolais who sold for €1,120.
There was also an excellent turnout of weanlings here as those in pursuit of that blue ribbon that goes with being best in show presented their best. Charolais dominated, with many of the better bulls from 350-450kg making €3.00-3.50/kg.
Strongest overall price saw four 336kg Charolais make €1,210/hd or €3.60/kg, while four 262kg Charolais averaged €4.00/kg.
Quality was not quite as good among the heifers, but at the top of the price pyramid stood a 270kg Belgian Blue at €4.48/hd or €1,210. The general run on prices for that better heifer was €2.70-3.30/kg.
A huge yard of cattle, with 1,426 presented. Jim Bushe said that while “trade remains very strong”, demand for beef saw them “move up again”.
Heavy bullocks sold for €800-1,270/hd over the €/kg, with heavy Friesians €600-850/hd over the weight, while heavy heifers made €720-1,110/hd over.
Continental store bullocks made €490-1,040/hd over, with Hereford and Angus types making €345-680/hd over their weight, while Friesian stores made €375-560/hd over the €/kg.
Continental store heifers sold from €490-880/hd over their weight, with Hereford and Angus stores €325-655/hd over the weight.
There were big numbers on offer here again last week, with trade excellent.
Among the top performers on the bullock side were seven 605kg Angus at €2.69/kg, six 396kg Herefords at €2.55/kg and three 461kg Charolais at €2.91/kg.
Michael Harty reckoned “a rising tide lifts all boats”, with even poorer dairy-type Angus and Friesians selling from €1.90-€2.00/kg, with €2.20/kg for the more average one.
Among the heifers, good stores from 450-550kg sold from €2.35-2.60/kg, with a batch of nine 604kg Angus averaging €2.61/kg, while a 700kg Charolais clicked €2.46/kg.
Barney O’Connell reported good numbers, with a strong showing among the cull cows seeing Friesians from 700-850kg selling from €1.70-180/kg.
Among the 550-650kg Friesians store types, prices ran from €1.30-1.80/kg, although Barney said parlour cows were very slow to come, with not much below 550kg.
Those Friesians straight from the parlour mostly made 70c-€1.40/kg.
On the bullock side the most interesting sale involved 24 Angus who averaged 646kg, had three moves and were very close to being over 30 months but still made €2.23/kg — which translated into a cheque for over €34,500.
Patsy Smith reported bigger numbers with the better bullock and heifer well maintained, although the plainer lighter animal found the going tougher.
On the weanling side the better bull under 300kg made €3.00-3.60/kg, while in the 300-400kg section that better bull sold for €3.00-3.30/kg.
Among the 300-400kg heifers the better one sold from €2.80-3.25/kg. Among the bullocks it was the same story with good forward stores pushing the boundaries at €2.60-2.90/kg, while the better 700kg+ cull cow sold from €2.12-2.44/kg.