Farm Ireland

Monday 23 April 2018

Price gap starts to show in cost of quality stock

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

A wider gap is becoming evident between top quality cattle and plainer stock in the marts as the effect of the factory quality payment system begins to trickle down the supply chain.

Several marts are reporting a bigger price gap between top-quality cattle and lesser-quality animals as farmers opt for cattle that will return money on the new price grid.

Dowra Mart manager Kerry McGovern maintained that there was considerable evidence that farmers were buying animals based on the factory price grid.

"The price difference is very evident, with farmers leaving poor-quality animals behind and going for the fancier type," he said.

The mart manager quoted weanling heifer prices of €350-400 over the weight for top-quality animals of 300-350kg but €500-600 over for fancier types.

A big variation in bull weanling prices had developed since the grid was introduced, he said. "Everyone is saying that the day of plain cattle is gone," he said. "The grid is definitely affecting them."

Age is also a factor for buyers, with many anxious to secure stock under 30 months and those that would qualify for the quality assurance bonus of 6c/kg.

Sean Ryan, from Athenry Mart, said the difference between good-quality cattle and plainer types was more noticeable now than at the back end of the year. He quoted a difference of €200/hd between top-quality cattle and lesser-quality animals.

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"A good Charolais bull grading R or U is making €300-450 over the weight but a Limousin out of a Friesian cow or even a plain Charolais is back at €250-260 over," Mr Ryan said.

Ennis Mart's Martin McNamara admitted the plain Holstein grading O- was under pressure.

Mr McNamara said that while the trend was not very noticeable yet, farmers were more determined to secure animals that were guaranteed R-grade.

However, not all marts are reporting the trend.

John Gilligan, from Delvin Mart, maintained that the price differential between top- and bottom-quality animals was always the same -- €150-200/hd.

James Shannon, from Ardee Mart, was in agreement, saying that there was always a difference between good and bad cattle.

Ballymote Mart's Tom Jordan maintained that the price of cattle had not changed much since December and there were only small volumes of forward cattle coming through the ring.

Irish Independent