The cattle game up until the start of this month has been pretty nip and tuck with factories squeezing prices and farmers playing hardball in return.
However, over the last two weeks factories appear — like Waterford’s hurlers in those last 14 minutes —to have rapidly cranked up the pressure on prices.
Two weeks ago bullocks were being quoted at €4.00-4.05/ kg — yesterday some factories were down at €3.85/kg.
The affect on the mart trade was that prices for bullocks had eased €20/hd by the end of the first week of August and by last Friday another €25-30/hd had been wiped off their average price for anything over 500kgs.
In both the 500-599kg and 600kg+ sections what is noticeable is that the biggest falls came in the price of the better quality or top quarter animal.
The better animal in the 500-599kg section lost 9c/kg or €45-54/hd as opposed to poorer quality animals which dropped 8c/kg or €40-48/hd.
In the 600kg+ section, the better bullock was back 5c/kg or €30/hd while the lesser quality animal fell by 4c/kg or €24/hd.
Last week I questioned whether factory price reductions hit the better quality animal harder than some would care to admit. The answer from the ringside figures for last week was a very definite yes.
The most spectacular proof doesn’t come from the heavier end, though it’s conclusive enough, but down among the fancy 300-399kg cattle.
The overall average price in this section fell by 8c/kg last week —that’s €24-32/hd —but the really nice bullock at this weight slipped 13c/kg or €39- 52/hd.
The only animal in the entire bullock table to show an improvement was in the 400- 499kg section where, ironically, the better bullock here rose by 3c/kg or €12-15/hd last week. It just goes to show any straight line can have a bend in it.
By contrast the 600kg+ heifer had a good week as she continued to shake off factory price concerns with her average price bouncing another 4c/kg last week to add to the 3c/kg rise from two weeks. This means she’s up 7c/kg or a minimum of €42/hd in two weeks.
A very big sale with forward and factory fit bullocks an improved trade. Among those catching the eye was 10 over 36-six month Friesians who made €1,355/hd or €1.86/kg. Moving down the weights good quality Limousins from €482-538kgs made from €2.63/kg back to €2.48/kg. The heifer trade was no less buoyant with the good 400-500kg continental feeding heifer selling from €2.40-2.50/kg with heavier types coming in at between €2.20-2.40/ kg. The cull cow trade while coming under pressure still returned €2.00/kg for good continentals here.
Still in the Banner but south west of Ennis trade was described as “firm” for quality but with plainer stock getting “harder to shift”. Top of the pile on the day was a 295kg Charolais weanling bull who made €3.00/kg while among those at the other end of the price spectrum were 400kg Friesian bullocks who saw the hammer at €1.65/kg. Among those in between were 348kg Limousins who made €2.53/kg, a 370kg Hereford cross heifer who made €2.34/kg and a 480kg Aberdeen Angus heifer who saw the hammer at €2.19/kg.
Michael Harty reported a big sale of stock with some “very strong prices” for good continental types in the 450-500kg section with the top being the 470kg Charolais who hit €2.78/kg back to about €2.30/kg for the plainer sort. The trade for 500-540kg Aberdeen Angus bullocks was “hit and miss” with €1.94/kg about the run of it, while among the 350-400kg Friesians prices ran from €1.50-1.70/kg. Heifer numbers were strong but farmers were keen with your good 450-460kg Hereford averaging around €2.20/kg. A few interesting bull prices saw 432kg Friesians at €1.58/kg, while 622kg Limousins hit €2.25/kg.
The story here was similar to many marts last week with quality maintained while plainer stock were a harder sell. The continuing interest of factories in heavy stock ringside was noted with a 705kg Aberdeen Angus hitting €2.14/kg with €2.20/kg the price of a 780kg Limousin. Down in the forward store section the gap between traditional beef breeds and continentals continues to close with a 630kg Charolais making €2.31/kg while a 640kg Angus hit €2.26/kg. It was a similar story among the heifers with prices for the tops hitting from €2.60-2.75/kg.
A large turnout nicely balanced by good buyer numbers helped keep the majority of the trade here on an even keel, with bullocks making from €2.39/kg up to €3.00kg for those lighter quality types. The heifer trade while still strong did see lesser quality come under pressure as prices averaged €2.32kg to a top of €2.96, with lighter quality sorts again hitting those high notes. Cull cow prices ran from €1.77-2.03/ kg.
Numbers here were easier with the trade described as “slower” than previously as increased numbers of Friesian, Angus and Herefords helped dampen overall averages. Heavy bullocks sold from €1.80- 2.30/kg while forward continentals ran from a base of €2.00-2.55/kg with lighter continentals selling from €2.20-3.05/kg. In the heifer ring beef heifers made from €1.90-2.40/kg with stores on €2.00-2.65/ kg. Weanling bulls averaged in the range from €2.10-3.00/kg with the better type weanling heifer helping to lift prices to a top of €3.20/kg off a €2.20/kg base.
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