Last week's trade returned to a more confident footing as the good weather lessened numbers in some places, resulting in more competition at ringside.
Stephen Hannon of Mohill Mart summed up the weather's effect on trade most eloquently when he said: "Sellers chose to stay in the field."
And indeed they did as the silage season went national. After getting tentatively under way in the south the week before, last week the high pitched hum of powerful grass mowers split the countryside air from Rosslare to Malin Head and from Dingle to Ardee.
My sources tell me that while numbers of sellers might have been fewer due to all this activity, there was no appreciable fall off in buyers across the country.
The short story among the bullocks and heifers is that overall, all bullock price averages rose, while on the heifer side - after a couple of weeks of upward movement - last week there was a slight softening of sentiment in some sections.
The story on the weanling front appears to be that there continues to be limited shipper activity but nothing thus far on the scale as seen last year.
Various mart managers commented that while they understand there is a certain amount of buying going on for places such as Greece, Turkey and Tunisia, a lot of the major players are either waiting for stock already bought to clear detention or are waiting to see what contracts can actually be tied down.
In the meantime, farmer buyers are taking up the slack and then some.
The Ringside tables show that your 100-299kg bull weanling gained on average 15c/kg or €15-45/hd last week, while the poorer quality animal at this weight did nearly double that at 29c/kg or €29-87/hd. Above this weight, average prices tended to bounce around a bit. While the overall average price in the 300-399kg section was back by just 3c/kg to €2.18/kg, and up 2c/kg to €2.27/kg in the 400-600kg section. Movements among the quality ratings saw poorer bulls in the 300-399kg division fall by 10c/kg, while in the 400-600kg section the poorer animal rose 8c/kg.
On the weanling heifer side, last week was by and large a good week for sellers with everything from 100kgs to 399kgs seeing averages across the various conformation classifications rise by between 2c/kg and 14c/kg. Slacker demand in the 400-550kg heifer division saw prices here fall by 3-6c/kg. It might be a fall but it's far from a disaster.
Returning to the bullocks in a little more detail, the strongest performing weight division continues to be the 500-599kg section.
Averages here saw the bottom quarter gain 8c/kg to €1.87/kg, while the top quarter put on 3c/kg to €2.55/kg. This left the overall average price of your medium to forward store up 6c/kg at €2.21/kg. This was 2c/kg clear of his nearest rival in price terms, the 400-499kg bullock.
Trade on the cull cow side was strong with young continental “cow heifers” making up to €2.20/kg. On the bull weanling side, €3.30/kg was the top price, with Stephen Hannon commenting that the he understood the buyer intended squeezing those particular 300kg Charolais bulls.
Overall, it was a very good trade but noticeable for the fact that seller numbers were less as the silage season claimed its share up Leitrim way. “Sellers chose to stay in the field,” was Stephen’s summary.
Thomas Potterton also rated his sale not “overly big” as Westmeath farmers also took to the fields and silage duty. Trade for heifers saw those under 400kgs make €1.82-2.90/kg, with those from 400-500kgs making €1.75-2.96/kg. Top of the 500kg+ heifer section was the 530kg Charolais who sold for €2.74/kg. Strong prices were also a feature of the bullock trade, with your lighter store typically making from €1.84/kg, a 495kg Friesian, to €2.51/kg in the case of two 367kg Charolais. Among the heavier bullocks, top billing goes a 595kg Charolais who made €2.60/kg, while Thomas also singled out four 654kg Friesians at €2.01/kg as a further indicator of strong factory prices.
Ann Harkin said the start of the traditional mid seasonal decline in numbers has also come to pass in Donegal. However, prices also remained very firm here with bullocks selling for €2.00-2.75/kg, while among the bulls prices ranged from €2.10/ kg to €2.95/kg. In the heifer ring prices ranged from €2.20/kg to €2.85/kg. There was equally no fall-off in the price of cull cows as prices ran from €640 for the plainer sort to €1,615/hd as in the case of heavy top drawer continentals
Smaller numbers here helped underpin demand especially on the bullock side, with prices reported as firm. Bullock averages ranged from €2.65/kg to €3.35/kg, with that €3.35kg coming for a 370kg Limousin. Other notable prices included 625-635kg Limousins making from €2.60/kg to €2.69/ kg, while a 425kg Charolais just missed out on that to spot at €3.29/kg or €1,400. The heifer trade was a little easier but still well respectable, with average prices ranging from €2.34/kg to €2.67/kg. Cull cows sold for €625-1,545/hd.
Prices here also held steady, with the forward animal the main driver ringside. Bullocks over 500kgs saw Friesians top out at around €600/hd with the €1/kg, while the majority of continentals sold from €850 to €1,000 with the weight. Among the lighter stores, under 400kgs, the better continental sold for €2.30-2.80/kg, with the top of the market seeing €3.00/kg.
No different to the rest of the country Mountbellew saw prices hold firm as demand assured a full clearance. Sample prices on the bullock side included a 485kg Charolais at €2.45/kg, a 495kg Simmental at €2.02/kg and a 470kg Belgian Blue at €2.27/kg.
Among the weanling bulls there was the 295kg Charolais who went under the hammer at €2.63/kg. On the heifer side prices cracked on very well, with a 230kg Charolais making €3.04/kg, followed closely by a 260kg Limousin at €2.84/kg.
Trade here was also steady with the forward store the main attraction, although good quality lighter stock also saw plenty of action. Prices from €3.59/kg to €3.66/kg were given for batches of Limousin and Charolais bullocks that averaged 310kg. Other strong prices came from quality batches of Charolais in the 460kg to 600kg weight range that made from €2.59/g to €3.00/kg.