Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Trade on the up as spring fever takes hold at marts

Elphin Mart. Weanling Bull Sales. Eyes Left. Photo Brian Farrell.
Elphin Mart. Weanling Bull Sales. Eyes Left. Photo Brian Farrell.
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

There was a lot of upward movement across the various divisions as the spring trade began to take shape across the country.

But I will get the negative news out of the way first. The weanling heifer had a difficult time of it last week, losing ground in both the 100- 299kg and 300-399kg sections.

Average prices fell by 7c//kg or €7-€21/hd in the lighter section, with the 300-399kg animal dropping 5c/kg or €15-20/hd. The most marked losses were among the poorer quality animals in both sections as they fell back by 9-10c/kg or from €9-€40/hd.

Part of the reason for these falls maybe to do with the strength of the weanling bull trade as buyers concentrate on getting numbers for the Turkish trade, thus turning their back slightly on the heifer. The other loser last week was the lighter bullock, with his average price slipping in the 300-399kg section by €6-8/hd or 2c/kg. The 400-499kg animal fell by 1c/kg or by €4-5/hd.

These are not massive movements and it can be expected that they will be made back up and more besides as the spring progresses.

Indeed, the bottom quarter of the 300-399kg section actually rose by 5c/kg or from €15-20/ hd last. Once you cross the line in the bullock table at 500kgs, prices only went one way last week and that was up.

The average increase in both the 500-599kg section and the 600kg+ division was 5c/kg or €25-€30/hd.

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The reason for that line or division is simple: while we are seeing the start of the spring trade the number of buyers ringside has not yet reached a critical mass.

Buyers are not putting too much pressure on prices or each to the point where some will drop out of the search for the more forward store of 500kg plus — the most suitable animal for short to medium term grazing or finishing —and fall back to lighter weights.

Hence, while competition upped the prices of those 500kg+ bullocks last week, there were still enough of them around and enough still left in the price for everyone to more or less get what they wanted - albeit at that €25-30/hd more.

As the spring moves on, however, prices will inevitably rise as farmers attempt to combat that curious illness ‘spring mart fever’ with the only acceptable antidote, the purchase of cattle at ever increasing prices.

Marts Roundup


Friday’s sale at Tullow saw numbers increase with the price of store’s setting the pace. Top price of the day went to four red 410kg Limousins who made €1,270 or €3.09/kg and 400kgs made €1,200/hd. Exceptional prices aside, the general run of prices for 400kg bullocks was from €2.20- 2.50/kg. Top of the market was €2.11/kg given for both Simmental and Charolais of 770-780kgs. Forward stores sold from €1.80/kg for Friesians up to €2.35/kg for Continentals.


Wednesday’s cattle sale saw 445kg Limousin bullocks make €890/hd, while Friesian cross bullocks saw 325kgs at €470/hd. Among the heifers €1,100 saw the hammer fall on a 510kg Limousin, with a 550kg Aberdeen Angus making €1,040. In the weanling ring a 370kg Belgian Blue bull found a new home at €875, while a 290kg Charolais cracked onto €780. Among the weanling heifers €745 bought a 355kg Limousin, with a 290kg Charolais making €720.


Trade was driven by strong farmer and feeder demand including 235kg Charolais heifers at €600/hd; while 280kgs Charolais made €640/hd, 450kg Herefords went at €980/hd and 480kg Limousins €1,220/hd. In the bullock section €850 got you a 295kg Charolais, while the same money also bought a 375kg Charolais.


The weanling sale at Roscommon saw a trial of strong bids between farmer buyers and shippers. Weanling heifers hit a high of €3.64/kg off a base of €2.58/kg or from €400-995 over the €/kg. Bulls started at €2.60/kg and made it up to €3.66/kg or from €500-945 over the €/kg.


Last week saw the beginnings of a spring trade with both fleshed bullocks and stores up in price. Good forward Continental stores around 600kgs hit €2.61/kg, while €2.22/kg saw an 805kg Limousin edge closer to the hook. The trade for that “nice” 400-500kg store saw six Limousins of 433kgs reach €2.75/kg. Heifer numbers were slightly less but quality lots from 300- 500kgs made from €2.26-2.67/kg.


The forward store bullock was favoured at Balla last Saturday where the 400-500kg store averaged €2.38/kg, while factory types reached €2.16/kg. Moving to the lighter store under 400kgs they were also a fine trade, with averages of €2.71/kg. In the heifer ring the top averages of €2.89/ kg were also achieved at the lighter end, in the 200-400kg section, while the heavier 400kg+ heifer averaged from €2.39/kg. The smaller sale of weanlings saw bulls up to 450kgs make 2.68/kg, with heavier types doing €2.63/kg.


The trade for Friesian bull calves at Kilrush on Wednesday last saw the lighter types make €30-70/hd, with stronger types selling from €74-146/hd. Aberdeen Angus and Hereford types made from €70-290/hd with the smaller number of Belgian Blue’s and Limousin’s making from €160-315/kg.

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