Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Cattle trade is on fire as farm buyers drive prices

But levels are 'unrealistic'

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The cattle trade in the marts is on fire, with exceptionally strong demand and fancy prices reported for all classes of stock.

Forward store bullocks are a particularly lively trade but mart managers claim that there are customers for all entries -- and this is being reflected in both the prices and the level of clearance.

One feature of the trade has been the level of farmer buying. The general view is that prices are being driven by farmers rather than by exporters.

One mart man maintained the price levels were based on "unrealistic expectations" of finished cattle prices this autumn. Another described the price being paid for store cattle as "absolutely silly".


In Kilkenny Mart last Thursday, continental bullocks made up to €710 with their weight.

Auctioneer George Chandler reported especially strong demand for what he described as "short keep cattle". He listed two 840kg continental bullocks, which sold for €1,450 and €1,550/hd.

Lighter continental stores were also in demand, the pick of the entry made €400 with the €1/kg. The trade for Friesians was not as strong but they still made €200 along with their weight.

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Cull cows also sold for good money as the well-finished continental types made more than €1,200/hd.

Mr Chandler said that while he had one or two customers for plainer cattle last week, he had seven or eight bidders for good stock.

It was a similar story in Ballyjamesduff, where €600 with the weight was paid for forward store bullocks.

Mart manager Danny Reilly had two 700kg continental bullocks that sold for €1,330 and €1,320/hd.

There was also a good trade for lighter cattle. Good-quality continental stores in the 470-570kg bracket made €485-570 with their weight.

Mr Reilly claimed farmers were doing the majority of the buying, saying: "The Northern men reckon they're too dear."


Athenry mart manager Alan Barry said calf prices had "gone off the wall".

He said continental bull calves made €400/hd, while black whitehead heifers sold for €280-290 and Angus lots went for €200/hd.

Mr Barry said good Friesian bulls made up to €240, with the general run of prices at €170-215.

Plain Friesians made back to €100/hd, while Jerseys sold for €60 or €70 each.

The perception that cattle will be scarce this year has definitely fuelled the price hike, but there are other factors at play.

The belief that this may be a reference year for the single farm payment has been cited as a reason for the push for numbers.

There is also a view that as bad as the cattle trade might be, it's better than putting the money in shares or having it in the bank.

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