Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 14 December 2017

Prices plummet as rain takes toll on cattle trade

Poor ground conditions forcing farmers to sell for up to €90/hd less

There is uncertainty around fodder supplies
There is uncertainty around fodder supplies
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Plain store cattle were back €70 to €90/hd in the marts this week as the atrocious weather conditions took its toll on the trade.

Friesian bullocks and beef animals out of the dairy herd bore the brunt of the price falls, with mart managers reporting significantly less bite for lower-quality stock.

Pressure is also being placed on factory prices following the poor weather, with some farmers reporting quotes as low as €3.70/kg for bullocks and €3.80/kg for heifers. However, there are no reports of deals being struck at those prices.

Huge turnouts were a feature of sales right around the country, with farmers forced to move cattle earlier than expected due to poor ground and grazing conditions.

Last week's heavy rains have finished the grazing season for farmers with heavy ground, and seriously curtailed grass supplies on better lands.

Uncertainty around fodder supplies has also persuaded farmers to sell poorer-quality stock that will take longer to finish, mart managers said.

Teagasc is advising farmers who may be under pressure for feed to sell non-essential stock now rather than hold animals.

Large numbers

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Marts reported massive numbers of stock over the last week, with some booked out for days before sales.

Light Friesian bullocks and dairy-cross Angus and Hereford heifers took the most severe hit in the sales rings.

Michael Harty of Central Auctions said demand for good-quality cattle was holding "remarkably well" but light Friesian bullocks were back €80/hd, with most selling for around €1.50-1.60/kg.

The trade for plain Angus-cross bullocks and heifers out of the dairy herd was also more difficult, he maintained. There was fewer dairy-type stock at Roscommon Mart but there was a huge turnout of stock, and plainer cattle were back €20-40/hd.

It was a similar story in Kilkenny Mart, with prices back around €40/hd for Friesian-type cattle.

Prices were also well back for Hereford and Angus bullocks out of the dairy herd, with most selling for €1.65-1.90/kg.

However, Kilkenny Mart's George Candler said there were fewer dedicated beef finishers in attendance than normal and he maintained that prices will settle once the current flush of cattle works through the system.

Demand for plain Friesian cows has also taken a hit.

Jim Bush of New Ross Mart said poor cows were back €100/hd over the last month, but the market was holding for well-fleshed animals.

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