Prices take a seasonal tumble as buyers bide their time
The buoyancy in the mart trade slowed down last week, a trend reflected in falls across almost all weight and quality categories on the ringside table.
Why after gradually building up the trade since marts started back in a meaningful way six weeks ago did last week see a softening in prices in all sections?
For the answer I turned to auctioneer Patsy Smith of Dowra mart. "Last week was the first week I noticed less men about to buy," Patsy told me.
He says it's to do with the time of year and the number of cattle already gone through the system.
"This is an in-between time for the cattle trade. A lot of the feeder men who killed cattle in December and January have already replaced them and the grass men are not really out yet," he said.
He added that while the trade is "good", it is"not as sharp" as previously.
What this translates into on the ringside table is that the forward store from 500-599kg saw the biggest falls as a result of less contract or feedlot buyers ringside.
The average easing in price in this section was 6c/kg or from €30-36/hd however the top quarter animal on the ringside table fell twice that at 12c/kg or from €60-72/hd while the lesser bullock at this weight shed 5c/kg.
Moving up and down the remainder of weights on the bullock table the next biggest loss of 7c/kg or €42/hd was among the top quarter of the 600kg+ steers. Overall averages from 300-499kg fell 3c/kg or from €9-15/hd.
While these are the ringside averages some marts reported the trade for those forward bullocks as steady to good.
The heifer table also saw a lot of downward movement last week, but it remained relatively stable overall. Granted the better 350-399kg heifer shed 10c/kg or from €35-40/hd but most falls on the heifer table were in the region of 1-5c/kg.
A closer examination shows several categories saw no change from the previous week while prices in the influential 400-599kg sections saw prices actually rise by between 2-6c/kg.
In the weanling sections, the absence of feedlot and specialist finishers hurt the trade as price drops from 2-21 c/kg happened among the 300-399kg bulls .
Confidence was also lacking for the heavier 400-600kg bulls as their prices slipped by 7c/kg on average or from €28-42/hd.
At the other end of the weight spectrum the 100-299kg bull also fell by up to €42/hd.
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