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Friday 14 December 2018

Cattle Marts: More slippage as confidence drains from the market

 

File photo
File photo
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Despite the feeling that the mart trade is starting to wind down for 2018, a number of marts are seeing a mini-surge in buyer numbers.

Patsy Smith of Dowra Mart said that despite those extra buyers, the trade saw cattle being "easier sold" - which sums up the continuing soft nature of the market.

The reason for that 'softness' is that with factory prices running 15-20c/kg behind where they were this time last year, and with feed and fodder prices higher, finishers have passed on the pain at ringside.

Yet again last week the vast majority of bullock prices averaged lower, this time by 1-4c/kg, although the Ringside figures for the forward store bullock from 500-600kgs show him as improving by up to 6c/kg.

In the heifer section overall averages from 350-599kg slipped by 1-5c/kg, although the better 500-599kg animal gained 6c/kg, while the 600kg+ heifer rose by 1-5c/kg.

In rough summary the mart trade last week saw forward store bullocks up by €10-30/hd, with everything else on the bullock side trading €10-12/hd less.

On the heifer side the better-conformation 500-599kg heifer and her heavier 600kg+ sister both improved by €30/hd, while everything else traded €5-40/hd less.

There is good news, however, as we enter the festive season. Des Morrison of ICMSA informs me that a renewal of trade with Libya the trade will see around 2,000 420-470kg bulls being shipped by the middle of this month.

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The effect on the mart trade saw average weanling prices for bulls edge upwards by 6-15c/kg last week. The overall average price of the 400-600kg animal stayed static at €2.17/kg, but the average price of the better bull at this weight did push on by 11c/kg to €2.64/kg.

On the weanling heifer table overall average prices also pushed on by 2-11c/kg.

However, that's only half the story. Far larger increases were recorded among the better-conformation animals in both the 300-399kg and 400-550kg divisions - up 27-31c/kg, or €81-170/hd.

Damocles

Yet the uncertainty about where prices may go in the New Year hangs over the entire trade like the sword of Damocles, as the effects of the dairy expansion continue to play out.

I attended the ICMSA AGM last week and posed the question to Minister Creed that the rapid expansion of the dairy herd had unbalanced the farming model in this country.

The minister said he did not think dairy expansion was "excessive" and believes "further expansion" is inevitable.

He was keen to emphasise the current lucrative nature of dairying especially if you were from a younger generation and considering entering farming as a career.

Marts Roundup

1 Dowra

“It was a good trade but cattle were easier sold,” said Patsy Smith, who noted extra buyers. Weanling heifers under 300kg made €2.00-3.20/kg with those in the 300-400kg bracket topping out at €2.60/kg. 500kg+ heifers sold from €1.50-2.70/kg, with those top-end prices going for those chosen for breeding. Among the weanling bulls those under 300kg made €1.80-3.45/kg, while in the 300-400kg section prices ranged from €1.70-3.15/kg. On the bullock front stores under 500kg made €1.60-2.70/kg, with heavier stock making €1.85-2.55/kg.

2 New Ross

There were also extra buyers here, with Jim Bushe saying that while forward store cattle were similar to the previous week “lighter classes of both bullocks and heifers were a better trade”. Beef bullocks sold from €540 over the €1/kg for Herefords and Anguses to €940 over for fancier continetal types. Heavy Friesian bullocks sold from €300-500/hd over the €1/kg, with lighter Friesians making €155-320 with the weight. Beef heifers sold for €500-980 with their weight, while store heifers made €360-660 with the €1/kg. Beef cows sold for €330-690 over the €1/kg, with straight-from-the-parlour dairy cows types selling from €300-570/hd.

3 Kilkenny

George Candler said numbers of quality cattle at marts are disappearing fast, with overage and underfed stock now “difficult” sales. On a more positive note cull cows showing a bit of feeding or nicely fleshed were steady. Bullocks over 600kg sold from €1.70-2.31/kg, with the 500-600kg bullock €1.70-2.55/kg. Beef heifers sold from €1.80-2.30/kg, with forward stores hitting a top of €2.30/kg. Lighter stores made €1.60-2.57/kg. Friesian cull cows sold from €0.65c/kg to €1.76/kg.

4 Raphoe

The fancier animal was also in short supply here. Although dominated by plainer types, prices for bullocks did not dip below the €2.00/kg mark, topping out at €2.50/kg. Weanling bulls made €1.80-2.30/kg with heifers selling for €1.90-2.50/kg. Fat cows sold from €585/hd to €1,150/hd.

5 Ballinrobe

This sale saw continuing strong numbers where quality commanded a premium. Top  price of the day went to a 380kg Limousin bullock that sold for €2.74/kg. Other bullock prices of note were the €2.16/kg paid for a 577kg Charolais and the €2.66/kg for a 455kg Charolais-cross. Among the top heifer prices were the€2.52/kg paid for a 595kg Charolais-cross and the €2.32/kg for a batch of three 575kg Limousins. The weanling trade saw a 315kg bull go for €2.70kg; on the heifer side a 355kg Limousin-cross clicked €2.35/kg.

6 Blessington

Trade for weanlings was also firm here. On the bull side 200-300kgs sold from €210-470 over the €1/kg, with 300-400kgs making €300-495 over. Heavier bulls made €345-500/hd over their weight. Weanling heifers at 200-300kg made €200-400/hd over the €1/kg with heavier heifers making €275-445/hd over the weight.

7 Carnew

There was a strong entry for the time of the year but demand for quality lots was undiminished, with beef and forward stores making €600-800 over the €1/kg, and continental stores selling from €380-810 over the €1/kg. Beef heifers sold from €550-860 over their weight, with store heifers making €210-715 over. Friesian bull calves made €40-180/hd, with continental bulls selling for €220-410/hd. Hereford and Angus bulls made €150-310/hd. Continental heifers calves made €140-360/hd. Beef cows sold from €350-680/hd over the €1/kg, with store cows making €150/hd under the €1/kg to €280/hd over.

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