Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Heavy heifers back by over €70 per head in two weeks

Kilkenny Mart
Kilkenny Mart
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

The mart trade last week was dominated by increased farmer demand.

The heifer trade was improved, but bullock prices were mixed. This week’s figures show heifers recovered from their dip of two weeks ago, with positive movement across all divisions from 350kgs to 599kgs.

However, the 600kg+ heifer dropped another 4c/kg last week to add to the 8c/kg she lost two weeks ago meaning she has shed 12c/kg or €72/hd in those two weeks.

I wonder if she will bounce a bit this week given that factory interest continues strong at base prices from €3.90-3.95/kg.

The average increase below 600kgs is from 3-4c/kg or from €15-20/hd, with best performer being the top quarter of the 350-399kg section which rose 7c/kg or €24-28/ hd.

This leaves the average for that better heifer at €2.51/ kg, with the average for the better continental at this weight a stronger €2.57/kg or €900-1025/hd.

The increase in price in the 400-499kg division is 4c/kg for both the overall average and the average of the better continental which translates into €888-1,108 verses €992- 1237/hd.

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Good and all as these prices are they are still €200/ hd less than those paid by that English butcher at Elphin last week who whipped off 40 heifers for grazing to England from their show and sale at an average of €1,000- 1,050 over the €/kg.

Which is my way of saying that the English market, Brexit or no Brexit, isn’t all about Tescos or Sainsburys, or the ABP or the Dawns of this world.

The bullock trade was mixed last week, with poorer animals below 500kgs taking a 5c/kg hit. In contrast, the better animal rose by 3-4c/ kg or by

€9-20/hd, as buyers, despite generally small sales, stuck to buying quality over numbers.

Moving up to the forward and beef bullock from 500-600kgs+, trade here strengthened slightly with the 500-599kg bullock’s average up 3c/kg, while the better one was up 5c/kg or €25-30/hd.

The increase in the 600kg+ section is restricted to a modest 1c/kg in the top quarter, with the poorer animal easier by 3c/kg or €18/hd. Weanling prices rose on average across the majority of weights, with only the 400- 600kg bull showing a modest 1c/kg decline as buyers moved to restock.

The biggest mover was the 100-299/kg bull which saw prices rise €11-33/hd or 11c/ kg, with the bottom quarter here rising 18c/kg or from €18-54/hd. However, mart managers report renewed interest in those heavier 400- 600kg bulls following their fall of €48/hd or 8c/kg two weeks ago.

Marts Roundup


Friday’s sale at Donegal saw a very good turnout and a generally strong trade. Heifers from 250-350kgs made €2.80- 3.60/kg, with €2.60-2.94/kg the range for the 350-450kg animal. Bullock numbers were small, with prices averaging from €2.00-2.42/kg. Continental bull calves were in strong demand especially from feeders with those from 250-350kgs making €2.70-3.44/kg, while exporters were fit to give up to €3.85/ kg for the same weights. The heavy bull suitable for the under 16-month market made €2.40-2.80/kg. Out of spec bulls were a harder sell, with prices from €2.10-2.45/kg.


The special show and sale of female stock at Elphin last week set an example as to what the suckler man can expect with the right stock, with one English butcher buying upwards of 40 heifers for further grazing at prices in the €1,000-1,200/ hd over the €1/kg range. Breeding heifers made from €1,000-1,050/hd over the €1/kg, while your average to good beef heifer of 400-480kgs covered the ground from €1,000-1,300/hd.


Sean Ryan noted a lot of farmers actively looking for stock at his sale last Saturday. He also rated the difference ringside between your average bullock and the top quarter bullock as being in the 30-40c/kg bracket. “it’s all about quality,” he said. In the bullock ring you could buy at €2.20/kg or pay up to €2.60/ kg for that better “quality” animal, while among the heifers €2.60/kg was also top of the market, with €2.25/kg the base. The weanling trade saw bulls at €2.20-3.10/kg, with heavier 400-450kg bulls “getting on well” at prices from €2.30-2.60/kg.


Michael Harty described his numbers as “disappointing” for the time of year. The reason he maintained was the abundance of winter feed and the fact that both buyers and sellers are waiting for grass to become better established. All that said Michael rated bullocks as “ unchanged” with lighter stock “a great trade” as evidenced by four Limousins of 375kgs who made €950/hd, while €1,005 saw the hammer fall on a 320kg Charolais. Among the heavier bull weanlings 570kg Friesians made €905/hd, while the same weight Friesian bullock made €950/hd.


The cull cow was the main seller at Listowel last week. Her price varied widely though, with Jerseys and Jersey cross’s the bottom of the trade at 60-80c/kg, with the general run of Friesians on €1.00-1.20/kg, while the top of the market saw €1.40- 1.50/kg. The calf trade was very strong with shippers paying up to €100/hd, while farmer calves made up to €170/hd. The smaller turn out of bullocks saw Friesians make €1.50-1.80/kg, with better Herefords hitting €2.08/kg.


Trade at Dowra was “good” with Patsy Smith commenting that the weanling trade was “especially strong”, with lighter weanlings most in demand. Bulls under 300kgs made €2.00-3.30/kg, with the 300-400kg bull on €1.80-3.10/kg. Moving up to the 400-500kg section prices here ranged from €2.00-2.90/kg, while bulls over 600kgs sold for €2.00- 2.48/kg. Heifer prices largely mirrored those of the bulls. Lighter bullocks made up to €2.60/kg.

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