Pics and Prices: Mart trade on a downward slope at a rate of knots
John O'Hanlon of Ballymahon mart says trade is to some extent "freewheeling". Freewheeling in the days when I owned a bicycle usually meant you were on a downward slope and you could rest a bit.
But what I think John means is the mart trade for bullocks and heifers is heading downhill.
Last week's ringside returns show overall average losses among the various weight categories on the bullock table that range from 3-12c/kg.
Worst affected was the 300-399kg animal, whose price slipped 12c to €1.96/kg; at the other end the 600kg+ bullock at €1.90/kg was nearly €20/hd worse off. The 400-499kg bullock dropped 8c/kg to €1.92/kg, while the 500-599kg animal at €1.89/kg was 6c/kg or €30-36/hd worse off.
Heifer prices also fell across all weight divisions. Again it was the lighter animal that suffered the most, with the average price of your 350-399kg animal back 12c/kg to €2.07/kg; the 500-599kg section shed 6c/kg to €2.01/kg and the 600kg+ heifer was down 6c/kg at €2.02/kg.
The 400-499kg heifer was the least affected but still dropped 2c/kg or €8-10/hd to €2.09/kg.
The weanling bull by comparison had a good week with the 100-299kg calf up 9c/kg to €2.31/kg, thanks to a 6c/kg increase in the average price of the better animal and a 17c/kg increase in the value of the lesser bull.
In the 300-399kg section, while the overall price rose by 2c/kg to €2.21/kg, it was the poorer type who drove the trade forward as he gained 3c/kg to €1.78/kg while the better bull slipped 1c/kg to €2.62/kg.
In the 400-600kg section the overall average price dipped by 1c/kg to €2.16/kg; but with the average price of the better animal staying static at €2.50/kg and the poorer-quality animal lifting by 9c/kg to €1.87/kg, how do you read it? Is it a case that at €2.50/kg those buying are saying those better animals are for the moment at the top of their price curve and with the bull job continuing to be very difficult, anything below €2/kg is value while also keeping you in numbers?
The weanling heifer price bounced around a bit. The 300-399kg animal performed well, averaging an overall price increase of 6c/kg to €2.30/kg. That 6c/kg increase was helped greatly by a 23c/kg (€69-92/hd) improvement in the price of the better animal at this weight. While the better animal among the 100-299kg calves also rose 6c/kg last week, the good was taken out of that improvement as the poorer-conformation 100-299kg calf dropped 10c/kg or €10-30/hd.
Also heading downhill last week was the price of the 400-550kg heifer as she dropped 14c/kg to €2.06/kg.
In short, while the trade "free-wheeled" last week, how long will it be before those buying are confident enough to begin pedalling and push prices up hill? Or will the fear of Brexit and continuing poor factory prices cripple confidence and puncture the mart trade as we head into the autumn?
In the know...
With factory prices continuing under pressure, the effect here on the bullock trade saw the best of the Herefords and Angus struggle to €2/kg or a shade better. Samples included five 545kg Angus who clicked €1,095/hd, with two at 430kg making €870/hd, while two 380kg Herefords found a new home at €780. Prices for Hereford and Angus heifers were similar: six 300kg Angus made €625/hd, with five 290kg Herefords clipping the €600/hd mark.
Smaller numbers saw the best of the bullock prices come in the 400-600kg sections, where a 455kg Charolais hit €2.81/kg, with two 510kg continentals next best at €2.61/kg. George Candler noted that suggestions from factory sources that beef will be further pressurised did not help purchasers' enthusiasm and saw the 600kg bullock slip back to €1.70-2.05/kg. The heifer trade was a better story with prices for quality lots ranging from €2.00-2.40/kg, with the tops hitting €2.90/kg. Despite those factory rumours, cull cows remained steady.
Numbers were slightly up here, with a large entry of heavy 650kg+ cattle plus a strong show of aged bulls. Top call among the stores saw two 502kg Limousins click €2.62/kg or €1,315/hd, while five 420kg Charolais at €1,210/hd or €2.88/kg also saw pastures new. Among the heavier bullocks, three 728kg Friesians sold for €1,200/hd (€1.65/kg); three 703kg Herefords made €1.93/kg or €1,355/hd; and two 727kg Limousin clicked €2.08/kg or €1,515/hd. Those aged bulls averaged €1.79/kg, with the top call being €2,000 for a 1,150kg Limousin.
Bullock prices averaged €1.79-2.97/kg, with that top per kg price going to a 300kg Limousin at €890. The strongest price of the day however saw a 680kg Charolais make €2.08/kg or €1,420 for the hammer. Heifers averaged €1.71-2.65/kg, with the top honours both going to Limousin: a 315kg at that €2.65/kg, while a 545kg lady made €1,290 for its owner. The weanling trade saw bulls sell from €€2.38-2.96/kg with heifers €2.47-2.54/kg.
The story here was of bullocks selling to an average of €2.19/kg with a 370kg Limousin setting the bar at €2.60kg. On the heifer side a 575kg Charolais at €2.32/kg or €1,335 was the top performer, although a 440kg Limousin at €2.48/kg set her standards. Cull cows ranged from €1,000-1,215/hd.
6. New Ross
Jim Bushe reported a smaller sale, with many farmers in his part of the country concentrating on tidying in silage before the weekend's rain. This saw trade a shade tougher on plainer, lighter stock although beef and cow prices were steady. Beef bullocks sold from €570-940/hd over the €/kg. Continental bullocks made €410-760/hd with the €/kg, with Hereford and Angus types making €270-470/hd with the weight. Heavy Friesian bullocks sold from €370-575/hd with the weight, while lighter types made €125-330/hd with the €/kg.
7. Maam Cross
Numbers were small here. Bullocks averaged €2.23-2.44/kg while heifers sold from €2.10-2.72/hd. Bull weanlings made €2.42-2.75/kg while commercial bulls averaged €1.51/kg to a top of €1.60/kg. Best of the cull cows saw a 2010 Charolais at 1,004kg make €1.88/kg, with averages working out at €1.56/kg. In the bullocks the star performer was a 450kg Charolais at €1,100, with a 425kg Charolais at €990 the best of the heifers. Best of the weanling bulls saw a 406kg Charolais click €900, with prices overall averaging €2.42/kg to a top of €2.75/kg.
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