As mart prices tumbled over the last six weeks everyone associated with the business has wondered where the bottom might be.
The good news, such as it is, is that some average bullock prices on the ringside tables showed some signs of recovery last week.
The 400-499kg store was up 2c/kg on average, and the better animal in the 500-599kg section up 3c/, which helped this division’s overall average remain unchanged at €1.97/kg. The best that can be said is that it’s a start; the question is, is it a false one?
Looking at the remainder of the bullock table we find that prices for lighter 300-339kg stores continues to fall. The biggest loser at this weight was the better conformation animal, down 19c/kg or €58-76/ hd leading the overall average value of the division to decline by 11c/kg to €1.62/kg. In round figures that gives a price spread from €486-€646/hd.
While the prospect of a long keep and concerns over the availability of winter feed goes a long way to explaining the difficulties among those lighter animals, the fact that the heavy
600kg+ bullock fell overall by 4c/kg to €1.92/kg is due to persistent factory price pressure over the last month. Last week saw bullocks slip to €3.85/kg at the factory gate, this week the figure being quoted is €3.80/kg.
Adding to the difficulties is the rumour that factory prices could yet slip further.
Moving onto the heifers, overall average prices across the tables fell by between 2-4c/ kg. Some of the weight divisions suffered considerably more turmoil than what that tight average would indicate. In the 350-400kg section the poorer conformation animal lost 11c/ kg last week and now stands on an average of €1.30/kg, while in the 400-499kg section the better quality animal was the one taking the hit, back 8c/kg. In the 500-599kg section the better animal was also hardest hit, losing 5c/kg, and ended the week on €2.28kg.
All is not lost however as the weanling trade, which has taken a severe beating over recent times due to the lack of sufficient shipping, last week bounced very nicely. Overall average prices across the entire bull weanling section rose by between 20-34c/kg.
Eoin Kenny reported an improved weanling trade. “Trade for weanlings was good. We had a lot of farmer buyers that were anxious for the good one,” he said. With the “good one” on the bull side, making around the €3.00/kg mark. Top samples included €3.16/kg given for a 280kg Charolais, with a 290kg Charolais clicking €3.05/kg. There was also a strong trade for the heavier 400kg+ bull as feedlot buyers pressed on. Samples here included Charolais and Limousins from 390-500kg who sold from €2.50-2.70/kg. Weanling Friesian heifers made from €1.60-2.00/kg, while the of majority of top end Charolais and Limousin sold from €2.80-3.00/kg.
2 BALLINAKILL The story here was of another large sale but one where the lesser animal was an easier sale which resulted in the better one easing a little in price. Looking at the sheets, averages for heavy bullocks ran from €1.95-2.35/kg with forward stores making from €2.00-2.55/kg. Light store bullocks made from €2.10-2.75/kg. Beef heifers made from €2.00-2.45/kg with store heifers making from €2.10-2.80/kg. Weanling bulls averaged between €2.05- 3.00/kg, with weanling heifers making from €2.10-3.10/kg. Dry cows sold from €1.20-1.85/kg.
The lighter store bullock saw his price edge upwards by between €20-30/hd although the plainer sort was unchanged. Prices in the weanling ring were also improved. Sample prices from the bullock ring saw 485kg Aberdeen Angus making €2.36/kg, while the same weight Charolais came in at €2.86/kg. On the heifer side a selection of Limousin heifers from 390- 415kgs sold from €2.46-2.54/kg.
Trade for stronger cattle remained firm here, while the lighter plain types were difficult. Beef and forward stores sold from €530-860/hd over the €/kg with stores over 500kg making from €500-760/hd with their weight. Stores from 400-500kg made from €420-635/hd with the €/kg, while lighter types sold to a top of €470/hd with the weight. Beef and butchers heifers made from €480-790/hd with the weight, while store heifers over 400kg made from €420-625/ hd over the €/kg. Lighter heifers made from €300-480/hd with the weight. Beef cows sold from €260-460/hd over the €/kg with feeder types making from €/kg to €200/hd over the €/kg.
5 BALLINROBE This was a special continental bullock sale with some fine examples presented. Sample prices on the day included a 565kg Limousin who made €2.43/kg, three 518kg Charolais hit €2.38/kg while a 465kg Belgian Blue saw the hammer at €2.53/kg. Among the heifers three 445kg Aberdeen Angus made €2.26/kg with a 490kg Charolais X making 2.24/kg. Top price in weanling ring saw a 345kg Charolais go for €2.54/kg. Top of the cull cows was a 635kg Simmental X at €2.08/ kg.
As well as the usual sale here last week there was a special show and sale of weanlings. Among the top performers was a 405kg Charolais bull that made €2.47/ kg, a 415kg Limousin at €2.30/kg and a 425kg Belgian Blue who came in at €2.10/ kg. Among the weanling heifers there was a 285kg Charolais who clicked a very pleasing €3.16/kg for her owner while a 350kg Limousin settled into her new home having cost €2.36/kg.
Numbers here remain steady with as elsewhere good cattle commanding the trade, while plainer lots were a harder sell. Sample prices among the bullocks included a 565kg Aberdeen Angus who made €1,050 and a 415kg red Limousin at €800.