Mart prices start to contract sharply as uncertainty grips the trade

Pictures and Prices from Tullow mart

File photo
File photo
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

There isn't any good news on the mart front this week.

Ringside returns for last week show a continuation in the decline of prices across all categories and weight divisions whether bullock, heifer or weanling.

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3 of Hereford cross MO. Weight 290KG. DOB 04/04/18. Made €500. Photo Roger Jones.
3 of Hereford cross MO. Weight 290KG. DOB 04/04/18. Made €500. Photo Roger Jones.

Only the 400-499kg heifer showed any positivity, gaining as she did 3c/kg overall.

There had been talk that the Beef Plan Movement might target marts last week, fortunately that did not materialise. Mart prices for bullocks and heifers contracted sharply last week as uncertainty gripped the trade.

Friesian Cow. Weight 565KG. Made €680. Photo Roger Jones.
Friesian Cow. Weight 565KG. Made €680. Photo Roger Jones.

The better quality 400-499kg bullock saw his price chopped by 19c/kg, that's €76-94/hd. In the 500-599kg division the better-quality animal was also the big looser dropping 12c/kg on average. These price falls helped push overall averages lower in both weight divisions by between 7-10c/kg.

The better quality 300-399kg steer was also the major fall guy, dropping 6c/kg on average and leading to the overall average slipping 2c/kg to €1.76/kg.

Chaorlais Cross cow. Weight 590 KG. DOB 30/06/15. Made €850. Photo Roger Jones.
Chaorlais Cross cow. Weight 590 KG. DOB 30/06/15. Made €850. Photo Roger Jones.

The 600kg+ bullock fell 5c/kg, €30/hd overall, as the wheels came off the poorer quality bullock by 12c/kg, €72/hd. Let's be honest, would you want to buy heavy cattle while not knowing if you can get them killed?

There was a modicum of restraint on the heifer side, with the worst of the week's price falls confined to the 600kg+ section. While the 350-399kg and 500-599kg heifer both slipped 4c/kg and the 400-499kg heifer rose 3c/kg as mentioned above, the 600kg+ heifer got well walloped. Her overall average at €1.78/kg was back 10c/kg as the top quarter fell 8c/kg to €2.08/kg, while the bottom quarter settled 12c/kg less at €1.55/kg.

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Cow & Calf Breed SIX / LMX. DOB 20/01/14. 14/03/198. Made €1890. Photo roger Jones.
Cow & Calf Breed SIX / LMX. DOB 20/01/14. 14/03/198. Made €1890. Photo roger Jones.

The bull weanling trade didn't fare any better last week. The least worst off on the bull side were those heavier 400-600kg animals whose prices dipped on average by 6c/kg to €1.89/kg. The 300-399kg bull at €1.97/kg ended the week 9c/kg back from where he had started, while the average price of the 100-299kg animal snapped back 18c/kg to €2.04/kg.

Among the weanling heifers trade bobbed up and down with most averages from 300-550kg moving up or down by just 2-4c/kg.

Hereford bullock. Weight 610Kg . DOB 20/05/17. Made €1110. Photo Roger Jones.
Hereford bullock. Weight 610Kg . DOB 20/05/17. Made €1110. Photo Roger Jones.

So, what of the Beef Plan movement and their factory protest? I outline in my factory report the choices as I see them for the factories.

For those at the top of the Beef Plan Movement the question is how do they secure a positive result.

Simmental bullock .Weight 610kg. DOB 10/05/17.Made €1120. Photo Roger Jones.
Simmental bullock .Weight 610kg. DOB 10/05/17.Made €1120. Photo Roger Jones.

The farming community is in many ways a very conservative grouping and while there is genuine support for the protest, many I spoke with were concerned that there appeared to be a lack of discipline in the group.

The reason Irish beef farming is in such poor shape is down to the fact the EU created a below cost food production model and has bought the silence of farmers and their leaders with subsidies for nearly 40 years.

Belgian Bluecross. weight 445Kg. DOB 21/07/18. Made €980. Photo Roger Jones.
Belgian Bluecross. weight 445Kg. DOB 21/07/18. Made €980. Photo Roger Jones.

Those subsidies have blinkered the ability of farmers to think in a very focused way and this has affected an entire cattle farming generation.

 

Charolais Cross heifer. Weight 465 Kg. DOB 09/06/18. Made €1010. Photo Roger Jones.
Charolais Cross heifer. Weight 465 Kg. DOB 09/06/18. Made €1010. Photo Roger Jones.

In the know...

DOWRA

Trade was reported quieter with weanling heifers selling from €1.90-2.70/kg, while the entry of store heifers sold from €1.70-2.60/kg. Heavier heifers made from €1.90-2.50/kg. Weanling bulls under 400kg sold from €1.60-2.70/kg, with heavier lots selling to a top of €2.30/kg. Store bullocks under 500kg sold from €1.80-2.50/kg, with heavier lots making up to €2.40/kg. The tops of the cull cows made from €1.80-2.40/kg, with stores generally making from €1.10-1.70/kg.

LISTOWEL

Charolais cross heifer .Weight 440 Kg. DOB 08/06/18. Made €980. Photo Roger Jones.
Charolais cross heifer .Weight 440 Kg. DOB 08/06/18. Made €980. Photo Roger Jones.
Simmental Bullock weight 600Kg . DOB 08/05/17. Made €1120. Photo Roger Jones.
Simmental Bullock weight 600Kg . DOB 08/05/17. Made €1120. Photo Roger Jones.

There were reasonable numbers on offer here with cull cows dominating. Prices for heavier cows operated from €1.20-1.40/kg, with lighter lots making around the €1/kg mark. Anything of poor quality, however, found the going very tough with prices for poorer types back to 50c/kg in some cases. On the heifer side the best of the Angus ranged from €1.75-1.83/kg, with Hereford heifers falling back to around €1.60-1.70/kg. Trade for bullocks was also under pressure, with some of the Friesians struggling to make €1.20/kg. Angus faired better with one batch weighting 436kg seeing €800/hd or €1.83/kg.

BLESSINGTON

Store bullocks over 500kg sold from €470-685/hd over the €1/kg, with those from 400-500kg making from €365-510/hd over the €1/kg. Lighter bullocks made up to €440/hd with the weight. On the heifer side beef heifers sold from €440-615/hd with the weight, with stores making from €300-470/hd over the €1/kg. In the calf ring continental bulls sold from €180-300/hd, with Hereford and Angus bulls making €160-280/hd. Continental heifers made from €140-240/hd.

DOWRA

Numbers were easier with prices for stores just about holding. However, reports indicate that plainer fat cattle were under severe pressure, with some 600kg bullocks struggling to make €1.60-1.70/kg. The general run of better heavy bullocks sold from €1.75-2.15/kg. Forward store bullocks made from €1.90-2.25/kg, with lighter stores selling from €2.00-2.55/kg. Beef heifers made €1.80-2.20/kg, with store heifers making from €1.95-2.45/kg. Weanling bulls made €1.90-2.40/kg, with weanling heifers covering the ground from €2.00-2.50/kg. Dry cows made €1.20-1.65/kg.

KILKENNY

Prices for bullocks from 500-600kg ranged from €1.45-2.30/kg, with three 580kg Charolais at €2.26/kg being among the better performers in a steady trade. Averages in the 400-500kg section mirrored the 500-600kg division, with the best performers here being two 480kg Charolais. Lighter bullocks averaged from €1.40-2.35/kg. Beef heifers made from €1.60-2.10/kg, while forward store heifers generally sold for €1.70-2.44/kg. Lighter lots sold from a base of €1.50/kg, with a 360kg Limousin lighting up proceedings and setting the top standard at €3.00/kg. Friesian cull cows sold from €1.00-1.50/kg.

CASTLEREA

Despite all the unrest outside factory gates it was noticeable that a full clearance was affected here. Sample prices among the store bullocks saw 475kg Charolais making €2.41/kg, while a 445kg Limousin clicked €2.57/kg. The going was a bit tougher on the traditional breeds with a 520kg Hereford only seeing €1.60/kg and a 515kg Angus hitting €1.61/kg. However, at €1.90/kg a 675kg Angus proves that there is a premium at the factory gate for the right one. The heifer trade was very solid with quality lighter lots hitting €2.40-2.50/kg.

KILRUSH

The trade was mixed for both bullocks and heifers with slower demand evident for heavier bullocks. Sample prices among the bullocks saw two 407kg Herefords sell for €1.97/kg, two 460kg Charolais clicked €2.27/kg.

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