Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

The heat is on as buyers generate some choice mart prices

Kilkenny Mart
Kilkenny Mart
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Living and farming in the country as I do you could almost feel the pressure rising among the cattle rearing and fattening fraternity last week and on into the weekend.

Yes there is high pressure on the weather map but the pressure I speak of is best summed up in the Castlerea mini mart report where farmers are described as fearing in their minds “the worst of all spring scenarios” — sunshine leading to a spurt of grass growth and not enough stock to eat it and this is regardless of where the price of beef might go.

The trade two weeks ago was influenced, especially among the heifers, by outside factors including the Cheltenham festival which had taken some buyers away from marts for an annual holiday of sorts.

Last week they were back, fresh from Ireland’s most successful raid ever on that English bastion with 19 winners, and they were in the form to start knocking out a few choice prices ringside.

The biggest movement outside of the weanling trade was in the heifer section with the predicted price rise of last week materialising across all grades and sections.

The 350-399kg heifer rose on average by 10c/kg or from €35-39/hd, while at the other end of the scale the 600kg+ heifer put on 7c/kg on average or a minimum of €42/hd.

Both the 400-499kg and the 500-599kg sections put on 3c/ kg on average or from €12-18/ hd inclusive. Moving to the bullock tables, the improvement in factory prices over the last two to three weeks has had the effect of underpinning an average price rise of 12c/kg or €72/hd in the 600kg+ section last week.

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The average price rises across all the remaining divisions 300-599kgs sees 4-5c/kg being about where it was at last week.

Those figures translate into mart averages of €681-906/hd or €2.27/kg in the 300-399kg section last week, while the 400-499kg bullock averaged €2.19/kg or from €876-1,093/ hd.

The 500-599kg animal rose 5c/kg to €2.11/kg or from €1,055-1,264/hd. System These are big figures even given the recent factory price rises and they are to some extent being driven by the fact a lot of marts have yet to reach their top pitch where spring sales numbers are concerned.

This brings me to another point made to me by a factory buyer who asked the question: “Where are all those extra cattle that are supposed to be in the system; who has them?”

If they are there, and Bord Bia and the farm organisations say they are, would now not be a good time to start showing them?

The weanling trade continues to flourish with those lighter Turkish type bulls again seeing gains with the 100-299kg section up 10c/ kg.

However, all other weight divisions in the bull section did fall on average last week by anything from 2-9c/kg.


Trade at Castlerea on Thursday was no different to any other sales yard across the country last week as farmers feared the worst, warm sunshine driving a spurt of grass growth and possibly not enough stock to eat it. To this end the heifer ring here saw 390-490kg Charolais make from €1,105-1,280/hd, while €1,480 saw a 645kg Charolais head to a new home. The weanling trade saw shippers driving those lighter Turkish types hard. 250kg €850, 280kg €865, 430kg €1,235 all Charolais bulls, while €855 was the price of a 295kg Angus, with a 485kg Limousin making €1,235.


The following day saw Carrick-on-Suir’s weekly mart with John Curran commenting that “cattle sold like hot buns”. Prices here saw four Aubrac 408kg bullocks make €1,090/hd or €2.67/kg, while six 355kg Angus made €2.25/kg or €800/hd. Among the more dairy type bullocks eight 361kg Friesians saw €650/hd, while the owner of a single 480kg Friesian refused €950. The man with the seven 370kg Herefords didn’t look his gift horse in the mouth, taking home close to €5,900 on a sales price of €845/hd.


There was also a very good turnout at Headford last weekend, with farmers buying for spring grass bidding bullocks up to between €330-1,045 over the €1/ kg. Top of the pops among the bullocks was a 645kg Limousin who made €1,690, while the best among the heifers was also a Limousin who at 590kgs made €1,400. The general run of heifers made from €320- 810/hd over the €1/kg. Cull cows made from €950-1,360/hd, with sucklers making from €1,300-1,700/hd.


Up close to the Border trade cracked on equally well with prices for Charolais bullocks from 322-380kgs going from €800-1,045/hd. €1,055 would have got you a 471kg Hereford, while €90 more at €1,145 saw a 464kg Limousin heading to pastures new. Moving to heavier stock, a €1,365 brought home a red Limousin, while €1,405 saw a 670kg red and white Hereford probably make a shorter trip. Heifers were also choice, with Charolais from 310- 473kgs seeing prices from €805-1085/hd.


Wednesday at Ballinasloe saw some midland and east coast buyers bow out gracefully as local farmers set prices alight. Could you buy value? Well with prices among the bullocks averaging from €2.38 to a top of €3.07/kg, those buying might agree it wasn’t simple. But who’s to say that in a week or a month those prices may appear manageable. Same with the heifers, they averaged €2.35/kg, while those rating four and five stars pushed onto a max of €2.90/kg. Dry cows averaged €1,040/hd, with the top price being €1,240.


Listowel’s calf and dairy sale saw a very good trade for calves, with Aberdeen Angus bulls typically making €150-295/hd. Trade for that slightly older calf saw Hereford bulls sell from €120-360/hd, while Hereford heifers typically went from €130- 200/hd, with the top of the market ranging from €242-297/hd. Friesian calves sold from €40-55/hd for younger or possibly not so polished lots, to between €112-145/hd for better older stock. Friesian heifers made from €118-165/hd.


Saturday’s sale at Carnew was described as “very strong for beef and store cattle” as farmers, finishers and factories got stuck in. Beef bullocks made from €650-1,100/ hd over the €1/kg, while the continentals stores made from €550-920/hd over their weight. Friesians made €220-710 over €1/ kg. Weanling bulls sold from €450-860/hd over the €1/kg.

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