Farm Ireland

Monday 23 April 2018

Buoyant mart prices slow suckler decline

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

A buoyant mart trade with strong prices being paid for all types of stock could counteract the falling trend in the suckler herd, a Bord Bia market analyst has suggested.

While a complete halt to the decline in the national herd is not likely, the strong trade could result in a levelling off of the fall this year, beef analyst Joe Burke said.

"It is very encouraging for suckler farmers to be getting strong prices for their animals this year," he said. "In spite of the sluggish demand for finished cattle, there are high prices being paid for fancy type cattle from the suckler herd.

"The strong mart trade for all types of cattle from freshly calved cows to bulling heifers could entice suckler men to bull a few extra heifers."

The suckler herd declined by an estimated 50,000hd last year but Mr Burke said it was too early to predict what the decline would be for this year.

Meanwhile the export trade continues to lag behind last year, mainly due to the higher price of Irish calves and cattle.

Weanling exports are down by 4,697hd, or some 27pc, while store exports are down 3,385hd (42pc), according to the latest Bord Bia figures.

Live exports of calves are running 25,300hd (37pc) behind last year's levels, while the number of finished stock exported is down 4,,769hd (27pc).

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"Our competitiveness for exports has been eroded," said Mr Burke. "Feedlots that were impressed by the quality of Irish cattle, by their feed conversion efficiency and health status are turned off by the higher price this year."

While the 38,000hd drop in live exports was not significant enough to affect the beef trade at the moment, it could result in an increase in beef cattle supplies by late 2012.

"There will also be a bigger supply of dairy cattle in the coming years," he said.

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