Farm Ireland

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Pictures: Shippers and farmers battle it out for weanlings in New Ross (top price €1,660)

Auctioneer Jim Bushe in action during a sale. Photo: Patrick Browne
Auctioneer Jim Bushe in action during a sale. Photo: Patrick Browne
Sean and Daryl Doherty. Photo: Patrick Browne
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

A buoyant trade for weanlings was reported at last week's sale in New Ross. Strong competition between shippers and farmers ensured excellent demand for the 290 animals on offer and a full clearance of stock.

Top grade Belgian Blue bulls of the Italian market were the pick of the sale, with prices ranging from €900 to €1,190 with the €1/kg. The top price of €3.53/kg was paid for one such Belgian Blue, with shippers paying €1,660 for the 470kg weanling.

Farmers were the main takers for heavy Limousin and Charolais bulls in the 480-550kg weight range. These generally made between €1,150/hd and €1,350/hd.

Farmers and exporters servicing the Turkish market competed for bulls in the 320-430kg weight bracket. Prices for these ranged from €850/hd to €1,160/hd. Angus bulls off the dairy herd sold for €1.90-2.30/kg.

New Ross Mart Manager Richard Kirwan with auctioneer Jim Bush
New Ross Mart Manager Richard Kirwan with auctioneer Jim Bush

There was a similarly lively trade for heifer weanlings, with prices from €2.60/kg to €3.80/kg or €700/hd to €1,060/hd.

Mart Trade

Limousin, weight 340kg, price €780
Limousin, weight 340kg, price €780

Last week I questioned whether mart prices from two weeks ago had reached a tipping point.

Despite a factory squeeze that started mid June, shaving between 10-15c/kg off the base bullock price and similar off the heifer, things didn’t look too bad for 2017 so far.

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However as we slip into Au­gust apprehension is starting to permeate as factory bosses continue to squeeze the price of beef. The unease started to affect the price of lesser qual­ity stock late last month with George Chandler of Kilkenny noting that “plainer bullock was back by €10-30/hd”.

Last week, mart managers described trade as “steady” with “plainer stock easier”. In Carnew plainer animals were said to be “easier” by €20/hd.

Belgian Blue, weight 380kg, price €1,070
Belgian Blue, weight 380kg, price €1,070

Last week’s ringside figures support this analysis with all bullock categories up to 599kgs seeing average falls of 5-7c/kg while the 600kg+ bullock eased back just 2c/kg to €2.03/kg.

What is very interesting when you delve into the sta­tistics is not so much which weight categories moved up or down, it’s how the figures for the various breeds within those weight categories moved over the last two weeks.

Charolais, weight 465kg, price €975
Charolais, weight 465kg, price €975

Looking specifically at the staple of the purely grass finish­er, the Friesian bullock.

The Friesian over 600kgs appeared the most susceptible to factory price movements with overall average mart prices falling by 5c/kg or €30/hd last week, while the general average of all bullocks at this weight fell by just 2c/kg or €12/hd.

This Limousin, weight 425kg, sold for €930
This Limousin, weight 425kg, sold for €930

However once I started to go down into the more storish animal under 600kgs things changed noticeably.

The average fall from two weeks ago in the 500-599kg section was 7c/kg last week that’s €35-42/hd yet the Frie­sian bullock only fell by 3c/kg, €15-18/hd.

Martin O'Keefe from Taghmon, Wexford at the sale
Martin O'Keefe from Taghmon, Wexford at the sale

The 400-499kg weight cate­gory recorded an average price fall of 6c/kg or €24-30/hd, yet the Friesian bullock at this weight actually gained 3c/kg on average from the week be­fore. In the 300-399kg section average overall prices fell by 5c/ kg last week but the Friesian bullock only averaged a 4c/kg reduction.

What’s going on? With facto­ry prices going in reverse and mart price averages following suit why is the humble Frie­sian, that “plainer bullock,” appearing to hold his own and then some?

Is it because it is only early August and if you have grass to eat why buy anything fancy at bigger money that might also need the expense of extra feed­ing? Or do factory price reduc­tions hit those more expensive fancy cattle harder than most would care to admit?


BEEF and forward store bullocks made from €610-950/hd over the €/kg while in the 500kg section prices ranged from €570-830/hd over the €/kg. Among the more storish types prices ran from €360- 775/hd over the weight. Beef and butcher heifers followed their bullock counterparts very closely with prices ranging from €610- 920/kg, while stores from under 300kgs to 400kgs plus made from €400-630/ hd over their weight. Beef cows sold from €340-680/hd with the weight with feeders making from €160-340/hd over their weight.


TRADE was firm with plenty of interest despite threats of factory price cuts. Among the dry cows with possibly further potential were a 635kg Limousin at €2.00/kg and a 625kg Belgian Blue cross who made €1.76/ kg while a 745kg Simmental cross was probably going the shorter road at €1.80/ kg. Moving to the bullocks some of the more choice prices were the €2.35/kg paid for 625kg Charolais, while down the lighter end a 355kg Limousin clicked €2.53/kg.


ALTHOUGH reported as “slightly easier”, trade here still saw heifer weanlings up to 300kgs make from €1.90-3.10/ kg, with those from 300-400kgs making from €1.80-2.90/kg. Heavier heifer’s from 400-500kgs averaged from €1.90-2.90/ kg with anything over 500kgs making from €1.80-2.40/kg. The bull weanling trade saw farmers put the squeeze on shippers for the very top quality animal leading to bulls under 300kgs making from €2.10-3.30/kg with heavier types selling from €1.80-2.90/ kg. Store bullocks under 500kgs made from €1.90-2.90/kg with those above this weight coming in at between €1.80-2.45/kg. Dry cows sold from €160-1.90/kg with store cows making up to €1.80/kg


THERE was a big entry of stock with trade for quality beef and stores continuing strong while the plainer animal was easier by about €20/hd. Beef and forward bullocks made from €600-960/hd with the €/kg with good quality stores making from €450-870 with the weight. The Friesian bullock saw his base slip to €175/hd over the €/kg although the heavier Friesian hit €620/hd with their weight. Beef heifers sold from €620-945/hd with the weight with store heifers ranging from €340-780/ hd with the €/kg. Friesian bull calves made from €60-180/hd with continental bulls selling from 250-440/hd.


TRADE was steady but prices for some of forward cattle seemed to reflect “the current difficulty in the beef trade” as one local commentator put it. Difficulties aside you’d still have to part with€2.25/kg for two 720kg Charolais and €2.40/kg for a 700kg single. The average for the majority of forward continentals was between €2.15-2.25/kg. Trade for heifers was also steady with prices for Hereford and Angus in the €2.05/kg region up to a top of €2.45/ kg for continentals. The weanling trade saw with 300kg bulls most suitable for shipping selling from €2.80-3.00/kg while strong demand for 400-440kg types saw their price settle between €2.40-2.60/kg.


WITH farmers, shippers, butchers and factory agents all present at Raphoe mart competition was keen. Bullocks sold from €2.15-2.70/kg with bulls making from €2.20-2.80/kg. The heifer trade saw prices of €2.25/kg at the lower end up to €2.80/kg for the better animal. Fat cows made from €600/hd for those in need of feeding to €1,690/hd for the more finished article.

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