Sellers adopting a ‘drop and go’ policy as Covid cases surge
Most marts saw numbers come back further last week, although more than a few continued to report “solid” turnouts.
Among those with stronger than expected numbers were Gortatlea, where Maurice Brosnan reported prices up around 10c/kg across the board.
“When farmers are making money, they’ll spend it,” said Maurice, as farmers “with money made” competed with shippers for lighter Friesian bullocks and bulls.
In Macroom, numbers were also higher than expected.
Although numbers in Loughrea held, with prices strong, Jimmy Cooney expects to see entries begin to tail off from this week.
It seems to be a slightly different story in the east of the country, with both David Quinn of Carnew and George Candler of Kilkenny reporting numbers as being back around a third since the start of the month.
George said beef bullocks and heifers were in short supply, as was the 320-390kg animal.
That said, both men reported a buoyant trade, with David noting plainer stock as “stronger by €30-50/hd”, with feedlots very active.
As with a lot of marts in strong dairy areas, Kilkenny, Macroom and Gortatlea’s numbers were underpinned by an increased turnout of cull cows.
While good Friesians did make up to €1.70/kg, the general run was from around €1.10-1.40/kg, with poorer-quality Jersey/Friesian types back at around 60-70c/kg.
With Covid cases now surging nationally, two mart representatives told me that a majority of their sellers had adopted a drop and go policy.
A good number of sellers never changed back to staying on mart premises to see their stock sold after the reopening of the mart system after the last lockdown; now it seems that a further cohort have decided to reduce the chances of exposure to the virus by limiting direct interaction at marts.
Should this policy become more widespread, we could see mart numbers this week increase as sellers decide to move stock while they still can.
Those same sources noted that numbers of ringside buyers last week remained constant.
The biggest movers on the bullock and heifer tables were in the 600kg+ sections as reducing numbers helped push average prices upwards.
On the bullock side the overall average price of 600kg+ animals rose 5c/kg to €2.24/kg, driven on by an increase of 7c/kg to €1.95/kg among the lesser-quality offerings.
Among the 600kg+ heifers the overall average price rose by 10c/kg to €2.33/kg as the top-quarter heifer also gained 10c/kg to €2.60/kg, while the lesser heifer averaged 7c/kg stronger at €2.04/kg.
Jim Cooney reported a good turnout with numbers maintaining and prices remaining strong — forward beef was up.
Among those forward types, the better bullocks and heifers made €2.50-2.70/kg, while lighter stores sold from €2.15-2.30/kg.
The better weanling bull and heifer sold to a top €2.70/kg, with the general run being €2.30-2.50/kg.
Jim expects numbers to tail off from this week.
Another surprisingly strong turnout, albeit a quarter of the animals were cows.
Yard manager Tim McSweeney reported empty young cows with milk as selling from €600-800/hd.
Dry 550-600kg Friesian culls sold from €800-900/kg, with continental culls making €2.00-2.20/kg.
Bullocks were firm, with feedlot buyers pushing Angus on to €2.20-2.30/kg and the odd €2.35/kg.
At those prices Tim noted that farmer buyers switched their attention to Herefords and pushed them to €2.00-2.20/kg, up from around €1.80-2.00/kg three weeks ago.
Steady numbers and a strong trade, with close to a complete clearance.
Among the bullocks at the heavy end, a 685kg Limousin sold for €2.16/kg, with a 670kg Hereford making €2.09.
On the store side a 570kg Limousin saw the hammer at €2.28/kg, followed by a 54kg Angus at €2.00/kg.
Among the heifers, samples included a 550kg Charolais at €2.18/kg, with two 545kg Angus averaging €2.04/kg.
The better 660-710kg continental cull cow made €1.70-2.03/kg, with good stores €1.40-1.90/kg.
With numbers falling and the share of lesser-quality animals increasing in marts, it was all about quality here.
Strong demand for the better store and forward beef animal saw heavy bullocks selling from €600-995/hd over the €/kg, with stores making €400-470/hd over the weight.
Beef heifers sold from €520-945/hd over the €/kg, with stores making €300-745/hd over their weight.
There was a strong trade for heifers, with the better 350-500kg types selling for €2.40-2.67/kg, while at the heavy end 620-750kg continentals sold from €2.30-2.66/kg.
Two 690kg Herefords making €2.19/kg.
Heavy, well-fleshed 750-930kg continental cull cows were a cracking trade, selling from €2.20-2.50/kg, while the top-end 600-660kg Friesian made €1.40-1.50/kg.
However, those straight from the parlour could be bought as low as 75c/kg.
There was a slightly better trade for weanling bulls, with the best of the 400-470kg continentals making €2.40-2.73/kg.
A smaller sale, with all types of stock improved by €20-30/hd, and yet another increase in demand for forward and beef cattle.
Heavy continental bullocks sold from €1,600-1,980/hd, with beef heifers making €1,350-1,780/hd.
For those buying replacements, continental store bullocks made €1,050-1,600/hd, while Friesian bullocks across their entire weight range sold from €850-1,300/hd.
Among the standout prices on the bullock side was a 550kg Charolais who made €1,580, while a 734kg Charolais saw the hammer at €1790.
Back down in weights, six 427kg Charolais averaged €1,050/hd.
Helen Kells reported numbers as slackening, but “they keep coming”.
Trade continues to be “sticky”, especially for the lesser-quality bull, although heifers were improved.
Sample prices among the better bulls included a 295kg Charolais at €960 followed by a 355kg Charolais at €1,100, with a 425kg Limousin making €1,130.
For those with mid-range quality, a 375kg Charolais at €1,010 and a 410kg Charolais at €900 offer guidance.
Top of the heifers was a 326kg Belgian Blue, probably gone for breeding at €1,700.