Farm Ireland

Monday 25 June 2018

Marts: Downwards pressure on autumn bullock trade


Stock Photo: Roger Jones.
Stock Photo: Roger Jones.
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Prices ringside took a tumble two weeks ago as poor weather conditions and continued downward pressure on factory prices coincided with increasing numbers of farmers deciding to move cattle onto the market.

Yet there were still some glimmers of optimism. Last week those price falls were largely reversed in the heifer section, while among the bullocks there was positive movement at both the lighter and heavier ends of the weight spectrum. Overall however, the bullock trade is starting to come under pressure.

To the heifers first, though. Overall average prices from 350-600kg rose last week by a minimum of 1c/kg or €4-5/hd as in the case of the 400-499kg section, while the 500-599kg section increased by 7c/kg or €35-42/hd.

Looking closer, you see the main beneficiary was the top quarter or better-quality heifer as she improved by 6c/kg in the 400-499kg section, 12c/kg in the 500-599kg section and 15c/kg in the 600kg+division. That works out at a maximum of €30, €72 and €90/hd across those three weight divisions.

The poorer-quality heifer in the 600kg+ section got well and truly walloped last week, losing on average 23c/kg, or €138/hd. However, the 15c/kg gain for the better heifer helped reduce the overall average loss to just 3c/kg or €18c/hd.

The 600kg heifer at last week's average price of €2.12/kg is still €36/hd ahead of where she was in mid-August.

The bullock table, however, reflects an autumn trade that is starting to come under pressure.

Looking at how the ringside tables have fluctuated over the last two weeks, you see that the pressure is definitely downwards despite the odd positive return here and there.

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Those positives last week included a 2c/kg increase in the price of the better quality 600kg+ bullock and the 300-399kg bullock regaining 6c/kg of the 9c/kg he lost two weeks.

The consolation for those with autumn stores from 400-600kgs to sell is that despite all the negative talk about mart prices coming under pressure, the averages in those 400-600kg sections appear to be declining only slowly from 1-5c/kg over the last two weeks.

The other thing to be taken into account is that looking at this week's mart reports, you will see that mart managers feel that the good bullock is holding his own and then some. However, the Friesian's performance is under pressure, with the Holstein-Friesian falling back to €1.50/kg and less in places.

The fact is as the autumn goes on you may see a significant price gap open up between those poorer black and whites and everything else.

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