Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cattle Marts: Positivity at the marts is reflected in higher prices

Farmers gather for cattle sales at Milford Mart in Co Donegal
Farmers gather for cattle sales at Milford Mart in Co Donegal
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

AS the winter sun gradually climbs a little higher in the sky, and the dry weather continues, the mart trade for cattle has taken on something of an early spring feel.

With most marts now returning to business it is great to see such positivity so early in the year.

And this positivity is reflected in the majority of last week’s bullock and heifer figures, with the only negative movement of consequence being in the heavier ends of both tables.

The biggest mover was the 400-499kg bullock which rose by 10c/kg or from €40-49/hd to reach an average of €2.08/kg for a rounded out average price of €832-1038/hd.

Both the top and bottom halves in the quality stakes in this section moved almost in unison with the top quarter up 7c/kg and the bottom quarter up 6c/kg.

This indicates strong demand across the sector as there were enough buyers anxious to hoover up the majority of offerings.

Several mart managers I spoke to last week commented that demand exceeded supply and that they would have sold more stock if the cattle had been available.

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In the 500-599kg section, while the figures show the average up the bare minimum at just 1c/kg, the top quarter here gained a very respectable 7c or from €35-42/hd.

The bottom quarter did fall by 5c/kg or €25-30/hd, as buyers carefully assessed the factory price prospects for finished stock into the summer.

That same factory price assessment, but in a shorter time frame, may have also influenced the markets pricing of the heavier 600kg+ bullocks last week; they fell back by 5c/kg on average, with factory prices effectively stalled at €3.80-3.85/ kg for carcase beef.

Indeed rumours that €3.75/ kg had been accepted by some with possibly out of spec or poorer confirmation stock helped push the poorer quality 600kg bullock onto an average of €1.63/kg or €978/hd. That’s down 11c/kg or €66/hd on the previous week.

But last week the average price of the better Aberdeen Angus/ Hereford bullock at €2.09/ kg was 4c/kg better off than the average price of the continental at €2.05/kg; food for thought for those in the suckling business perhaps.

The only other animal to see an average downward push on price was the 300-399kg stock; but with the top quarter gaining 6c/kg or from €18-24/hd I don’t read too much into that average fall of 1c/kg.

The heifer trade was also in good fettle last week although the average price gains across the various weight divisions from 350-599kgs were less spectacular than those of the bullock.

The biggest average price rise was in the 350-399kg section where prices rose by 5c/kg on average, with the top quarter gaining 9c/kg. That left the average price at €2.13/kg or from €745-850/ hd, with the top quarter on €864-985/hd or €2.47/kg.

As you go up the weights the gains become less. The 400-499kg average price rose by 3c/kg to sit on €2.05/ kg, while the 500-599kg heifer average price only improved by 1c/kg, although the tops here gained 3c/kg or €15-18/hd.


Gortatlea in Kerry celebrated its second anniversary in some style last Friday. A very strong turnout of stock was mirrored by keen local interest and serious competition from Northern buyers. Trade was brisk with your good continental cow making €2.00-2.11/kg. Among the heifers both Hereford and Aberdeen Angus saw prices in the €2.10-2.20/kg range, with continentals hitting €2.51/kg. In the bullock ring the trade was no less buoyant, with 680kg Friesians making €1.85/kg, while 10 545kg Herefords made €2.11/kg.


There was also a big turnout of local and Northern buyers in Baltinglass for the annual bullock and bull show and sale. Mart owner Joe Kinsella was happy with the very large entry but even more so with the quality and prices achieved. Among the prices were 380-395kg Limousins who made from €2.50-2.60/kg, while slightly heavier 417-420kg Belgian Blues made €2.37-2.42/kg. Moving to the heavier end you had the champion, an 810kg Limousin, making €2.34/kg.


“Considering where the factory price is, the mart trade has started 2017 strongly.” This was manager Sean Ryan’s assessment of the mart trade at this early point. His sale on Saturday saw the stronger heifer make from €2.10-2.50/kg, while Hereford bullocks saw their prices hit €2.40/kg off a base of €2.10/kg. In the weanling ring, both farmers and shippers were active, with the lighter 350kg animal’s price ranging from €2.30-3.71/kg, and Belgian Blues coming in at €3.00-3.60/ kg.


Numbers were reported as up slightly on the previous week but so to were the number of buyers. The top of the market saw 595kg Charolais bullocks make €2.27/kg, which made the various lots of Limousins from 640-660kgs that made from €2.08/kg-2.13/kg, interesting. In the heifer ring the Charolais were again top with various lots at 450kgs making €2.47/kg, although at €2.42/kg some of the Limousins weren’t too far away.


Auctioneer John Curran said he felt a little bit like Gay Byrne, commenting that although the sale wasn’t overly big the diversity of stock was such that there was something for everyone in the audience. That something could have been four Aberdeen Angus bullocks of 608kgs who made €1,225 and six 485kg Friesians that went for €850/hd. If heifers were your thing how about four 475kg Limousins that averaged €1,030 or a couple of 256kg weanling Angus at €500/ hd or their similar weighted bull brothers at €520/hd, while at €860 got you a 640kg dry cow.


Trade in Macroom saw the better quality dry cow sell for €490 with her weight, with the poorer animal dipping to €150 under the €1/kg. Aberdeen Angus bullocks in the 490-565kg bracket hovered around €2.00-2.12/kg, while €2.03/kg was the price of two 520kg Herefords. Among the continentals were five 340kg Limousins that went for €2.28/kg

Online Editors

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