Marts: More woe as trade keeps ploughing downwards
Despite reports of some positivity in the sale for better-quality stores, the trade for bullocks and heifers overall continues to plough downwards.
When you take the 600kg+ bullock out of the picture, the average prices per kg for the 300-399kg, 400-499kg and 500-599kg weight divisions are converging.
Last week the 300-399kg bullock averaged an unchanged €1.87/kg; the 400-499kg bullock gained 1c/kg to €1.89/kg, while the 500-599kg bullock was back 4c/kg to €1.85/kg.
This time last year, mart overall averages for your 300-599kg bullock ran from €1.81-1.92/kg; in 2017 the figures were €2.08-2.18/kg; in 2016 they were €2.01-2.10/kg.
What is the reason for this tightening of mart averages?
Despite the relatively good weather and an abundance of grass and winter fodder, there is a real feeling of apprehension around, fuelled by uncertainty about how many store cattle are in the system due to the expansion of the dairy herd. And by Brexit.
Yet the current squeeze on store mart prices is coming from the top down as mart and factory returns for beef get continually hammered.
Last week the overall average price of your 600kg+ bullock fell 4c/kg to €1.77/kg. That's back 11c/kg on this time last year and a whopping 27c/kg or €162/hd less than 2017.
So those buying are operating very cautiously.
On the heifer side last week, despite some stronger prices among better-quality lots, the figures show that prices for these better animals were 1-5c/kg less than the previous week at €2.26/kg. This pushed the overall price of the 350-399kg heifer back by 2c/kg to €1.94/kg, while your 400-499kg heifer finished the week at €1.95/kg, also 2c/kg down.
There was some positive movement as both weanling bulls and heifers saw their prices improve: 300-399kg bulls rose 11c/kg on average to €2.20/kg, helped by a 12c/kg increase for the better-conformation animal to €2.59/kg.
The 400-600kg bull also went up by 13c/kg to €2.20/kg, with the better types up 23c/kg to €2.63/kg.
The 300-399kg weanling heifer improved by 15c/kg on average to €2.36/kg, with the better types again the main drivers. The 3c/kg rise for the 400-550kg heifer was led by a 13c/kg rise in the price of the lesser animal to €2.35/kg.
In the know...
There was a good entry given the time of year. "Trade was surprisingly reasonable despite all the negativity," said Patsy Smith. Weanling bulls up to 400kg sold for €1.70-2.80/kg, with heavier lots making €1.60-2.40/kg. Weanling heifers under 300kg sold from €1.70-2.85/kg. Store heifers from 400-500kg made €1.90-2.60/kg, with the best of the heavier heifers seeing €2.40/kg. The tops of the cull cows sold for €1.40-1.85/kg, with feeder types making €1.20-1.85/kg.
There was an optimistic edge to the trade despite the difficulties with factory prices. Beef and forward Friesian and Angus bullocks sold from €580-900 with the €1/kg. Continental stores sold from €2.10-2.40/kg, with lighter plainer Friesian and Anguses making €1.75-2.05/kg. Trade for heifers was steady, with beef types selling from €550-880 with the €1/kg. Lighter store heifers made €2.00-2.35/kg. The large entry of cull cows saw plainer lighter culls making €100 with the weight, while the best of the heavy continentals pushed on to €1.80-1.95/kg.
There was also a good turnout here with strong cattle in demand. The lighter better-conformation store also performed well but plainer lots found the going tough. Bullocks from 300-400kg averaged €2.08/kg, with a 380kg Limousin the top performer on €2.71/kg; 400-500kg bullocks averaged €2.14 to a top of €2.96/kg. Heavier bullocks averaged €1.90/kg. On the heifer side the 400-500kg animal averaged €2.13/kg to a top of €3.29/kg, lighter heifers averaged €2.20/kg with 500kg+ averaging €2.02/kg. The small show of weanlings saw those under 350kg average €2.42/kg, with heavier bulls averaging €2.23/kg to a top of €2.45/kg.
The sheets showed dry cows as selling from €150 under the €1/kg to €340 over, meaning the good one sold from €1.30-1.45/kg. Hereford and Angus bullocks made €240-465 with the €1/kg. Samples included three 505kg Herefords getting the nod at €970/hd, with six other 450kg Herefords seeing the hammer at €890/hd. Samples among the coloured stores saw six 390 Aubrac bullocks making €815/hd, with two 455kg Charolais at €930. On the heifer side, a 410kg and 455kg Piedmontese made €920 and €980 respectively, while a 365kg Limousin kicked on to €850.
Numbers were tighter here, with trade staying steady. On the bullock side, two 370kg Limousins sold for €2.20/kg, with a single 460kg Limousin hitting €2.38/kg. Various lots of 470-530kg Friesians averaged €155-1.70/kg. The best of the Hereford heifers saw averages from €1.80/kg to nearly €2/kg. Samples included 465kgs at €1.87/kg, 430kgs at €1.82/kg, with a single at 425kg setting the bar at €1.97/kg. Best of the cull cows was a 675kg Charolais at €1.53/kg.
It was also a case of small numbers here with demand keeping prices steady for the better one. Looking down the sheets on the bullock side how do you decide which is the better bet? Two 507kg Angus at €900/hd, three 460kg Herefords at €855/hd, four 410kg Limousins at €795/kg or two 425kg Shorthorns at €770/hd? With the possible exception of the two Angus who could be gone by Christmas, all the rest will see you into next year and the post-Brexit beef world.
Numbers here were increased as beef and forward store bullocks sold from €580-880 over the €1/kg, while continental stores sold from €430-780 with the €1/kg. Beef heifers made €530-820 over the €1/kg, with store heifers selling from €250-730 over their weight. Weanling bulls sold from €370-640 over the weight, with Friesian bulls making €120-480 over.
Continental bull calves sold from €280/hd to €470/hd, with Friesians making €45-180/hd. Hereford and Angus bull calves sold from €130-320/hd.
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