Forward cattle up to €80/hd higher than 2017 figures


Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell
Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

With the weather improving, cattle marts last week saw a continuation of strong numbers and strong prices for good cattle.

Thomas Potterton from Delvin Mart notes that both bullocks and heifers were up maybe €50/hd on the previous week, while his weekly average for last week showed considerable improvement on the overall average prices Delvin achieved in May 2017.

This prompted me to look back to the ringside averages for this week last year and compare them with last week's performance.

Everything this year has been delayed by the weather, and getting a completely accurate analysis is not entirely possible. However, what does not change is the fact that farmers always want stock to graze grass and factories want cattle for their contracts, so in one sense the conveyor belt never stops.

The first thing I noticed was a more consistent pattern on the heifer side of the house as opposed to the bullock side.

On the bullock side no one section - whether overall average, top end or bottom end average - showed consistency of movement.

That was not the case with the top-end heifer. Whether it's in the 350-399kg division where she's up 4c/kg on average on a year ago, or the 600kg+ animal who is better by 5c/kg, the better-made heifer is consistently better priced this year.

Her two biggest lifts come in the 400-499kg section where at €2.63/kg she is 11c/kg higher than last year and the 500-599kg division where last week's average of €2.59/kg is 9c/kg better.

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On the negative side, poor performances by the bottom quarter animal on the heifer table in both the 350-399kg and 400-499kg sections, where prices fell by 16 and 9c/kg respectively this year, sees a knock-on effect on the overall average price at these weights.

The 350-399kg heifer is back 7c/kg overall, while the average price of the 400-499kg heifer at €2.28/kg is the same as 12 months ago.

Above these weights, however, it's more or less positive news all the way, with the 600kg+ heifer performing particularly well. Her overall average is up 5c/kg or €30/hd at €2.25/kg, helped by that 5c/kg increase in the value of the better-made animal, while that 25c/kg improvement in the price of the lesser animal at this weight over her 2017 average is the major tipping factor.

Lighter bullocks

It's not as clear cut on the bullock side except to say that the poorer-quality animal from 300-599kg was priced last week on the ringside table exactly in line with his 2017 figures.

In general the lighter store bullock under 500kgs was actually worse off last week than 12 months ago. There's not a lot in it admittedly. with the better animal at 300-399kg less by 4c/kg, while the poorer conformation animal is the same year on year.

In the 400-499kg sections the overall average is also back 4c/kg. Above 500kgs we start to move in line with Thomas Potterton's assessment.

Average prices are up by between 5-11c/kg in the 500-599kg section, while prices for the better quality animal over 600kg are better by 13c/kg or €78/hd.

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