Stores up €50/hd since January as grass finishers chase supplies

George Candler
George Candler

Declan O'Brien and Martin Coughlan

Brexit uncertainties and stagnant beef prices failed to derail the store cattle trade in the marts over the last week, as strong demand for quality stock continued to underpin the market.

While plain cattle prices eased back, graziers were still paying a premium for top-grade stock, and competition at ringside was reported to be brisk.

Prices over the last 10 days were described as steady rather than spectacular at sales around the country. However, increased buying by grass finishers has put an edge into the quality end of the trade.

Prices have jumped by a minimum of €50/hd since January, even though the beef quotes remain rooted at €3.75-3.85/kg.

"Tradition dictates that graziers have to be doing their business now, and they will be increasingly active from here to the end of March," one industry source commented.

In Delvin Mart, strong demand from grass finishers saw good-quality Friesian bullocks top €2/kg, while nice coloured cattle generally made €2.40-2.60/kg.

George Candler of Kilkenny Mart described last week's sale at Cillin Hill as "cautious", with the market for quality stock holding.

However, Mr Candler pointed out that prices had improved by 15-30c/kg or €50-100/hd for quality stores since January, and that the trade for this category remained brisk.

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Well-shaped continental cattle made €2.35-2.70/kg in Kilkenny last week, with up to €2.80/kg being paid for "flash stores".

In contrast, plainer stores were €10-30/hd cheaper, with buyers slower to purchase those types.

In Raphoe on Thursday, the trade was said to be "similar" to the previous week, as farmers from both Donegal and Northern Ireland vied for stock.

Prices were generally unaffected by the week's political happenings, with the threat of tariffs on Irish beef exports into the UK having no appreciable impact on prices for either forward stores or fat cattle.

The mart reported stronger demand for good-quality dry cows, with €1,500 being paid for continentals.

In Leitrim, Dowra mart prices held up well, as Patsy Smith noted there were not enough good cattle in the system at present to meet actual demand.

Marts Roundup

1 LISTOWEL

Despite the Theresa May factor (see main report), there was a good-size turnout with trade for cull cows seeing a majority selling from €1.15-1.30/kg, with the occasional continental making up to €2/ kg, while at the other end, poorer Friesians dipped to 50c/kg. Sample; lighter Friesian bullock prices saw six at 342kg make €1.58/kg, with five at 296kg selling for €1.35/kg, while a 520kg Charolais, who was blind in one eye, clicked €2.12/kg.

2 DINGLE

The weather had cleared to some degree by the weekend in the Kingdom, leaving trade here none the worse. Nelius McAuliffe reported the trade for shipping calves as improved with averages from €60-70/hd paid for suitable types. Hereford and Angus bull calves sold from €180-280/ hd with Angus and Hereford heifers making from €100-170/hd. The trade for yearlings was very good, with Hereford and Angus bullocks selling from €2.15-2.20/kg on occasion. “The yearling trade will be fine. Men will just let them grow out of what they cost as the year goes on,” Nelius said.

3 SIXMILEBRIDGE

The story here was also one of weather concerns more so than Brexit, as numbers fell back due to incessant heavy rain. “ The weather played hell with numbers and to some degree with demand,” was Sean Ryan’s comment. Despite this, prices on the day for bullocks averaged from €1.93/ kg, as in the case of three 515kg Herefords, to the €2.45/kg that was paid for two 485kg Limousins. On the heifer side, top of the price pile saw two 480kg Limousins at €2.25/kg, while at the other end were two 270kg Herefords at €1.88/kg. Friesian calves sold from €40-80/hd with Hereford and Angus seeing a top of €240.

4 DELVIN

Thomas Potterton reported trade as steady with Friesian bullocks improved and making over €2/kg at times. Prices for bullocks under 650kg ranged from €1.89/ kg, achieved by four 508kg Angus, to €2.37/ kg in the case of a 565kg Charolais. Heavier bullocks made from €1.71-2.00/kg. Store heifers sold from €2.00-2.20/kg while the 500kg+ heifer averaged €2.08/kg

5 MOUNTBELLEW

Numbers were less than previously, however demand insured a complete clearance. Sample prices on the bullock side include two 482.5kg Angus X, who sold for €2.07/kg, a 445kg Speckled Park X at €1.89/kg, while a 510kg Angus X achieved €1.80/kg. On the heifer side, there was a 470kg Limousin X who sold for €2.19/kg, with a 400kg Shorthorn X making €2.06/ kg. Best of the weanling bulls was a 295kg Charolais at €2.85/kg, while for those looking for something heavier, two 410kg Limousins made €2.28/kg with a 485kg Angus X making €2.04/kg.

6 BALLINROBE

Trade here saw smaller numbers with prices remaining firm, especially for better types. On the heifer side, a 555kg Limousin clicked €2.36/kg, while a 475kg Angus hit €2.33/kg. Top of the price pile was a 445kg Belgian Blue who sold for €2.56/kg. Turning to the bullocks, samples at the top end included a 570kg Charolais at €2.46/kg, a 485kg Limousin at €2.49/kg and a 435kg Angus at €2.53/kg. Best of the weanlings saw a 275kg Limousin heifer make €3.27/ kg while a 395kg Charolais bull saw the hammer at €2.77/kg.

7 TULLOW

Trade was steady for beef and the forward store, while farmer demand drove on the lighter store. Heavier Friesian bullocks made up to €500/hd with their weight while heavier continentals sold to a top of €950/hd with the weight. Hereford and Angus stores made from €1.80-2.05/kg with continentals making from €2.15-2.40/ kg. Among the lighter stores, a majority of potential R grading continentals sold from €2.15-2.40/kg with the very tops seeing €2.60/kg. Beef heifers sold from €650- 900/hd with their weight with younger stock in demand. Angus and Hereford store sold from €1.80-2.00/kg

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