Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 July 2018

Marts: All change as heavy stock take a €75 to €90/hd hit


This 540 kg 2015 born cow sold sold for € 950 at Mountbellew Mart in a dispersal sale of 55 cows from the local Agricultural College's dairy herd. Photo: Hany Marzouk
This 540 kg 2015 born cow sold sold for € 950 at Mountbellew Mart in a dispersal sale of 55 cows from the local Agricultural College's dairy herd. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Two weeks ago it appeared that a corner had been turned on the balance between numbers and buyers. Bigger sales coincided with bigger numbers of buyers arriving ringside.

Weeks of ringside price wobbles and reversals were corrected as the trade at first steadied and then headed upwards on the back of extra demand.

Last week the trade gave back almost all of those gains and then some. Why?

The answer is simple according to John Curran of Carrick-on-Suir Mart: "Men are getting full up," he says.

It's a view that extends far beyond just Carrick-on-Suir with other mart managers concurring and explaining that as mart sales have been stronger on average throughout the year, a lot of buyers have "a majority of their shopping done".

While I can see the logic in this analysis, the cattle trade in Ireland is no longer solely dependent on just traditional farmer buyers.

Feedlots and those with contracts periodically need to get out and top up so I would contend that the trade for the better animal will settle down as these buyers go about their very specific business.

Looking at the figures, prices for better bullocks in the 500-599kg section dived by 15c/kg or from €75-90/hd last week.

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The 500-599kg forward store bullock was the worst hit of all the bullock categories loosing an overall average of 14c/kg on the ringside table followed by 600kg+ bullocks which were back 9c/kg or €54/hd.

The 400-499kg animal was back by an average of 7c/kg or from €28-35/hd.

One factor affecting the forward bullock trade is that buyers are watching the board for age and are penalising those animals close to or over the 30-month mark.

It's not all bad news, however, as the lighter 300-399kg store shook off its previous week's average fall of 2c/kg and posted a 6c/kg average gain.

Ringside Prices


Bullocks up to 400kg topped at €2.25/kg with the 400-500kg store a shade better at €2.26/kg as extra midland buyers made their presence felt. In the top end prices, we find a June 2016 born, 495kg Limousin making €2.61/kg. The 600kg+ bullocks averaged €2.01/kg while in the 500-600/kg section the average was €2.10/kg. In the heifer ring, those under 400kg averaged €2.33/kg with the average in the 400-500kg section coming in at €2.24/kg The best price among the heifers was €2.92/kg paid for a June 2016 born 415kg Limousin.


“We had good numbers with continentals hitting €2.30/kg but the plainer Friesian was back around €1.40/kg,” said John Curran. That said the “real deal” Friesian still commands a premium, with eight at 505kg making €1.84/kg here. Sometimes it’s all about the price however and I would be interested to compare the above at time of slaughter with a batch of 460kg Friesians of “average” quality that went under the hammer at €1.35/kg. Heifers for breeding sold well with three 363kg Limousins making €2.29/kg with a single 380kg Limousin clicking €2.27/kg. John Curran’s summary of the trade is that “men are getting full up.”


Whether in Carrick-on -Suir or Carraigallen, the poorer quality animal is under pressure.“There is no bother selling the good weanling the poorer quality one is tricky,” said Helen Kells. The reasons vary from men getting full up to questions over winter fodder to the fact the shipping trade is in a lull.

That said the averages among the bulls ran from €2.35/kg in the 200-300kg category to €2.53/kg in the 300-400 section with heavier bulls averaging €2.47/kg. Top prices among the 200-400kg section ran as high as €3.39-3.57/kg.


With five or six bidders reported as lining up here every time a real quality animal came into the ring, averages for the better bull weanling climbed. Top price of €3.50/kg went to a 220kg top quality conformation Limousin while at the other end, dairy influence reduced a 290kg Limousin Friesian cross to €2.21/kg. Heifers averaged €2.52/kg with a 310kg Belgian Blue hitting €3.36/kg. Calf prices saw some dairy types make around €100/hd with better suckler stock hitting a top of €550/kg.


There was a large entry with very strong demand for beef and quality stores seeing these types sell from €600-960/hd with the €/kg. Continental stores sold to a top €810/hd with the weight while the Friesian store bullock ranged €160-450/hd over the €/kg. Among the heifers, beef types sold from €480-870/hd with their weight while store heifers made from €320-710/hd over their weight. Beef cows made from €350-710/hd over the €/kg with lighter feeding types making from €120-410 over the €/kg. In the calf ring, heifers made from €150-410/hd.


Eoin Kane noted that with the weather steadying up, some farmers at his sale were considering letting cattle back out as ground dries. Maybe the dry weather helped, but farmers were more confident as they pushed “the nice 260-300kg weanling bull calf” onto €3.00/kg. Shippers were also active, in general for a slightly lesser animal down around the €2.20-2.30/kg price mark. The dry cow market was particularly strong with younger, well-made 2012-2014 cows making €2.00/kg and more from feedlot buyers.


Numbers matter, and as dairy herds expand, their dominance in the numbers game can’t be ignored. Here we had Charolais, Limousin, Angus and Hereford bull weanlings in their ones, two’s and three’s up against Friesian weanling lots measured in eights, nines and tens. Among those Friesians were 8 at 243kg who made €1.83/kg, ten at 264.6kgs sold for €1.78/kg with 10 at 225/kg making €2.00/kg. In the quality stakes were a 368kg Charolais at €2.28/kg while a 210kg Limousin cracked the €3.00/kg ceiling at €3.33/kg.


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