Sellers hope sun can get prices rising in marts


Full pens at the mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Full pens at the mart. Photo Brian Farrell

The message from the marts last week was one of "measured fluctuations", especially among the prices for bullocks and heifers.

Overall the trade for bullocks and heifers saw average prices continue to move up or down within tight enough bands.

The greatest average increases came in the value of the poorer-quality 600kg animal as he rose 7c/kg or €42/hd, with the next best improvement (5c/kg, €25-30/hd) coming among the 500-599kg segment on the heifer table.

The 6c/kg increase in the 300-399kg division on the bullock table equates to an €18-24/hd increase.

On the negative side the falls were less dramatic as the majority of movements were limited to 1-3c/kg, although the 400-499kg bullock did drop back by €16-20/hd or 4c/kg.

The 400-499kg section was also the worst performer on the heifer table, losing 3c/kg, €12-15/hd across all sections.

So despite 2018 tripping into the calendar summer season last week, those with cattle to buy for grazing continue to act with caution.

It will be interesting to see whether the good weather that appeared over the weekend will change things, because a lot of the average mart prices currently being paid are only marginally better than those paid two months ago.

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On the weanling side, heifer prices rose sharply but bulls slipped back.

Average overall prices for heifers stayed steady - in the case of your 300-399kg animal - or rose sharply, as they did in the 100-299kg section, up 14c/kg or €14-42/hd. Meanwhile, the 400-550kg heifer pushed on even more, gaining 18c/kg last week, an impressive €72-99/hd.

Despite good farmer and shipper interest, the bull weanling over the last two weeks has not had the best of it. Part of the reason is that farmer buyers have been waiting for the weather to pick up so as to avail of the cheapest of feeds - grass. This has resulted in the shipping boys not being pushed as hard as they might.

Last week's overall averages saw the 100-299kg bull weanling make €2.39/kg or from €239-715/hd, with the 300-399kg bull averaging from €687-914/hd at €2.29/kg, while 400-600g animal took the worst of the price battering meted ringside last week.

Feed bills

His overall average price of €2.19/kg was back 16c/kg on the previous week, while the poorer-quality animal at this weight got hammered by 27c/kg and ended up at €1.77/kg.

On the matter of recent feed price increases, a buyer of select bulls for fattening summed up the lack of control felt by both buyers and sellers at marts.

"To have an animal that will bring in the money whether at the mart or the factory, you have to feed," he said. "That feed bill has to be paid but it can take months for factory prices to go up but the millers can slap €15 or €20/t onto feed prices in a week and there's not a word."


Milk prices may be be declining, but the lure of the white gold remains strong, hence this sale of 140 dairy cows and followers saw a full clearance. Freshly calved cows sold from €1,200-2,100/hd, while autumn-calved cows made €800-1,280/hd. In-calf cows sold to a top of €1,250 off an €800/hd base, with bulling heifers making €750-850/hd, while Friesian heifer calves sold from €270-400/hd.


Trade for cattle to go to grass was “brisk” with the better continental bullock — in the case of some select batches at 465kg — making €2.68/kg, while back at 430kg, and maybe not looking so fancy, the price was €2.38/kg. The nuts and bolts of the summer grazing herd always sees large numbers of black and whites making the transition from the dairy herd to the beef man, with Friesians here making from €1.90-2.10/kg. Among the heifers, sample prices saw Charolais from 405-492kg sell from €2.38-2.60/kg.


The cattle business is often about fine margins. I did up the figures on three Herefords that went under the hammer here at 640kg and sold for €1,330/hd. Being Herefords and 640kg being almost 13cwt I couldn’t see outside of them being hung up where they could be going. Will they leave money? You tell me. But from where I sit the auctioneer seems to have squeezed the last cent out of them. He could do no more.


Bigger numbers, more farmers buying for grass and continuing exporter activity all led to the trade here remaining firm, with better-quality lots improved. Heifer prices included a 380kg Limousin who sold for €3.04/kg, while at the other end of the weight scale a 530kg Limousin saw the hammer at a very impressive €2.81/kg. The heavy dry cow market was also strong, with an 830kg Charolais clicking the top price at €2.24/kg, while many of the better conformation ladies hit between €1.90 and €2.20/kg. Hereford and Angus calves sold from €130-300/hd, with dairy cross types making from €20-140/hd.


John O’Hanlon said his trade was “busy, with good cattle very dear”. However, he also noted that there were “more plainer types around”. Those two extremes saw a 360kg Friesian bullock make €1.18/kg, while a 325kg Charolais commanded €3.35/kg.The 450-500kg bullock set you back €2.30-2.64/kg, with the top one heading to €2.90/kg. Above 500kg prices for bullocks ranged from €2.30-2.70/kg, with a 515kg Limousin-cross setting the top bar at €2.91/kg.


Despite the adverse weather, farmers, agents and shippers were all keen contenders for stock here. The general run for bullock was from €2.20-2.80/kg, with bulls making from €2.10/kg to €3.10/kg. Heifer prices averaged €2.20-2.90/kg. Fat cows made from €750/hd to €1,595/hd.


A good trade with the beef and forward store bullock section seeing keen competition — prices pushed to a top of €1,000hd over the €/kg off of a strong base which averaged €620/hd over the €/kg. Beef and butchers’heifers also performed well, with prices averaging from €560-880/hd over the €/kg. On the store side bullocks from 400-500kgs sold from €480-760 over their weight, while store heifers over 400kgs sold from €460-800/hd. In the calf ring Friesians bulls sold from €90-200/hd, with Hereford and Angus bulls making from €140/hd to €320/hd, while continentals made from €160-380/hd.

Indo Farming

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