Quality heifers jump 16c/kg despite mixed prices

This Angus cow weighed 645Kg . 14 months old made €1005 in New Ross. Photo Roger Jones.
This Angus cow weighed 645Kg . 14 months old made €1005 in New Ross. Photo Roger Jones.
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

With grass continuing to grow very well across the country, marts also continue to see strong demand from farmers for stock to help manage that extra growth.

Last week’s returns for our Ringside tables show that the animal of choice for this job appears to be the heifer or the bullock up to 500kg.

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Looking at the heifer table first it’s a story of positive consistency, with all weight divisions registering improvement. The biggest jump in prices came in the 350-399kg section where the overall average price rose 10c/kg to €2.19/kg.

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This Simmental Cow and Calf weighing 605 Kg 63 months old and made €970 in New Ross. Photo: Roger Jones.

The main driver in this division were the better-quality animals as they gained 16c/kg or a very impressive €56-64/hd, ending the week with a section average of €2.60/kg.

The remaining heifer weight divisions showed more modest improvements, with both the 400-499kg section and the 500-599 division up 2c/kg to €2.12/kg and €2.07/kg on average.

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Limousin Bull weighed 1020Kg 93 Months old made €1700 in New Ross. Photo Roger Jones.

The 600kg+ heifer drove on a bit more as she saw her overall average price improve by 4c/kg to €2.07/kg. In relation to how the various quality divisions performed — top quarter versus bottom quarter — the runaway winner was the already mentioned better heifer in the top section of the 350-399kg division gaining as she did 16c/kg.

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This Charolais Bull weighed 990Kg 73 Months Old and made €1500 in New Ross. Photo Roger Jones.

However, there was greater price consistency among the lesser quality animals across the entire heifer weight spectrum than among the better types.

This consistency among the lesser quality animals saw the 600kg+ section record a 7c/kg improvement, exactly the same as in the 350-399kg division. Buttressed in between were a 2c/kg and 3c/kg improvement in price for the poorer type animal, in the 400-499kg and 500-599kg sections respectively.

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This Angus cow weighed 645Kg . 14 months old made €1005 in New Ross. Photo Roger Jones.

While among the better types upward movement broke down once you went over 500kg, with the better 500-599kg heifer actually falling 4c/kg to €2.07/kg, the better 600kg+ heifer staggered upwards by a bare 1c/kg.

On the bullock side the story is a bit like the Connacht football final on Sunday between Galway Roscommon, as told from Galway’s perspective. Up to the 499kg half-way mark, it’s all sunshine and roses.

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LMX Bull calf price €1850. Photo Brian Farrell

The 300-399kg bullock being up 9c/kg on average to €2.08/kg, while the 400-499kg animal tipped along at €2/kg, up a modest 1c/kg on the previous week.

Both overall averages were underpinned by improvements in the average price of the better animal, with that better animal in under 400kg rising 9c/kg to €2.74/kg, while the better bullock from 400-499kg rose 7c/kg last week to €2.64/kg.

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A Limousin Cross Weaning bull in Gort. Photo: Brain Farrell

Once over the 500kg halfway point, last week’s bullock prices lost ground. That better bullock lost 5c/kg on average in both the 499-500kg and 600kg+ sections.

These losses see the 500-599kg bullock slip overall 4c/kg to a price of €1.95/kg, while the 600kg+ bullock falls 2c/kg to average €1.93/kg.

Limousin and Charolais Cow and Bull calf in Gort. Price €1800. Photo Brian Farrell

Looking back to this time last year, those forward bullocks from 500kgs and up are back 18-19c/kg — that’s almost €100/hd on a 500kg animal and at least €108 on anything over 600kg.

Obviously, cautious buyers are prepared to invest in the better quality, lighter stock on the basis that with grass plentiful, they will grow them into the money - Brexit or no Brexit.

In the know...

1. Dowra

While numbers reduced here, trade was described by Patsy Smith as a flyer. Weanling heifers up to 300kg sold from €1.80-3/kg, with those from 300-400kg selling from €1.90-2.90/kg. Heifers from 400-500kgs made from €1.70-2.75/kg, with heavier lots making up to €2.40/kg.

Weanling bulls under 300kg sold from €1.90-2.95/kg, with those from 300-400kg making from €1.80-3.10/kg. Heavier bulls sold for €2-2.75/kg. Forward dry cows made from €1.70-2.10/kg, with feeders selling from €1.20-1.90/kg.

2. Mountbellew

There was a small increase in numbers here with prices from the sheets on the bullock side including two 575kg Limousins who sold for €2.10/kg, two 557kg Angus at €1.99/kg, while two lighter 522kg Angus saw €2.11/kg. Prices among the store heifers included a selection of 380-415kg.

Limousins ranged from €2.07-2.42/kg, while a 350kg Charolais saw the hammer fall at €2.37/kg. Prices for weanling heifers from 280-360kg again saw Limousins dominate at prices of €1.97-2.43/kg.

3. Castlerea

Supplies here remain steady with trade reported as steady to improved. Sample prices from the bullock ring included a 475kg Belgian Blue at €2.72/kg, a 525kg Limousin at €2.47/kg and for those with no colour licence a 600kg Friesian at €1.80/kg.

On the heifer side, again it was a Belgian Blue who set the price bar, this time 400kgs at €2.97/kg. Other prices of note included a 475kg Charolais at €2.88/kg and for those with an eye on the factory trade you had a 680kg Charolais making €2.30/kg.

4. Tullow

There was a very good show of stock here given the time of year with the store trade holding its own. Beef and forward Friesian bullocks sold for €1.70-2.10/kg, with continentals making from €2.10-2.25/kg.

With surplus grass to be grazed, lighter Hereford and Angus lots made from €1.95-2.10/kg, with continentals making in general €2.10-2.60/kg.

However, a number of well-presented Limousin and Charolais stores strode onto between €2.85-2.90/kg. Trade for heifers was lively with Angus and Herefords making from €1.90-2.10/kg.

5. Blessington

Forward stores and beef bullocks here sold from €540-910 over the €1/kg, with beef heifers making from €475-800 over the €1/kg.

Store bullocks over 400kgs sold from €460-825 over the weight, with lighter lots selling from €700-560 with their weight. Store heifers over 400kg made from €380-635 with the weight, with lighter heifers making from €300-485 with the €1/kg.

Beef cows sold from €310-610 with the weight, with feeders making from €100-300 with the weight. Friesian bull calves sold from €100-175/hd, with Hereford and Angus types making from €160-340/hd.

6. Raphoe

There was a seasonally good entry of stock here with the usual mix seeing strong demand. Recent good grass growth was a boon to the trade as farmers anxious to make the best use of it were noticeably keen for quality and in-spec forward stores suitable. Bullocks and bulls sold from €1.90-2.70/kg, with heifers making €2-2.80/kg. Heavy cows made from €810/hd to €1,645/hd.

7. Roscommon

While numbers were a little smaller here, Maura Quigley reported a solid trade with bullocks ranging from €2.23-2.84/kg and heifers making from €2.28-2.53/kg. Sample prices among the bullocks included a 465kg Limousin at €1,100, two 407kg

Charolais Xs at €930/hd and a 545kg Charolais at €1,240. On the heifer side you had a 570kg Limousin at €1,285, three 348kg Limousins at €880/hd, and a Shorthorn X weighting 485kg made €1,000. Dry cows sold from €1.85-2.11/kg.

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