Farm Ireland

Monday 25 March 2019

Mart Trade: Rolls Royce animals send logic out of the window


Elphin Mart Special Heifer Sale. Lot Number 89A Overall winner Store. Weight 590Kg
DOB 3/4/17. Heifer. Breed CH. Price €1535
Photo Brian Farrell
Elphin Mart Special Heifer Sale. Lot Number 89A Overall winner Store. Weight 590Kg DOB 3/4/17. Heifer. Breed CH. Price €1535 Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

The story of the cattle trade in recent days is one of increased numbers. Some were reporting close to record entries for this time of year.

On the price front the trade was largely stable. There was some movement but it was within tight bands.

For example the overall average price of steers in both the 300-399kg and 600kg+ sections fell last week by 3c/kg, yet the 400-499kg animal remained steady while the 500-599kg bullock rose just 1c/kg.

These figures tally with reports from mart managers as most found trade was steady but maybe a shade easier in places.

That said, your Rolls Royce animal, whether bullock or heifer had, as they often do, the ability to excite buyers to the point where logic went out the window.

We all shake our heads from time to time when we hear of some apparently outlandish mart price, but at the same time we've probably all been there.

I remember buying a pair of U grading Red Limousin bullocks in Kilkenny for a princely sum. They looked amazing and along with a dozen other very nice continentals rotated exclusively through a series of small paddocks near the house. I called them the Bishop's cattle.

When their time came they died well, yet in reality when all the figures were broken down they didn't leave me any greater net profit than my less exciting and far cheaper Friesians, Hereford or Angus that populated the rest of my farm.

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Yes sometimes the money doesn't make sense, but let's be honest, there is something awful satisfying about knowing you have a few of the best - regardless of the money.

Looking at the overall average category across all the weight divisions on the bullock table last week, there was only 12c/kg of a difference from the heaviest to the lightest.

Your 600kg+ bullock averaged €1.92/kg, while in the 300-399kg section the average figure was €2.04/kg.

In the 400-499kg section the average was €2.03/kg with the forward store in the 500-599kg section coming in at €1.99/kg.

Among the heifers the per-kilo overall average price range last week from lightest to heaviest was a shade stronger at 15c/kg.

The prices ringside were 2.15/kg for your 350-399kg heifer while at the other end your 600kg+ heifer came in at €2.00/kg.

Different story

It was a completely different story when you look back at the heifer prices this time last year.

Back then the difference on average from top to bottom was 44c/kg, with the 300-399kg heifer having pushed up to €2.50/kg, while at the other end your 600kg+ heifer struggled onto €2.06/kg. It is now hard to fathom, given that back then the factory heifer price was €4.10/kg.

Are those currently buying heifers being more prudent because factory prices are in the doldrums, or is it simply the case that with no 'Beast from the East' to disrupt mart supplies, buyers have more choice?

Indo Farming