Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Weather woes see plain bullocks back by €50/hd

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Mart prices for plain store cattle and young stock have tumbled by at least €50/hd in the past fortnight as appalling weather conditions take their toll on the cattle trade.

Heavy rain, combined with a shortage of both grass and fodder on farms, has discouraged farmers from buying store animals until the forecast improves considerably.

George Candler of Kilkenny Mart said the trade for plainer store bullocks was back €50-€80/hd last Thursday, although beef cattle and heifers were still in strong demand.

Mr Candler attributed the price drop to "a lack of grass and a lack of brass".

He said plain 350kg Friesian bullocks sold for €600-610 on Thursday last, compared to €650-700 the previous week.

Prices for young stores of 350-400kg have fallen by 10-15c/kg at Ennis Mart in the past fortnight, according to mart manager Martin McNamara.

Young bullocks of 350kg sold for around €2.40/kg on Thursday, a drop of €35-50/hd on two weeks ago, while heifers are back by €35/hd to €2.45-2.50/kg.

"While the trade for good forward store and beef bullocks and heifers is holding up, the trade for younger animals has been particularly affected by the weather," said Mr McNamara. "Farmers are not out buying because they don't have any grass to put the cattle on."

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Castleisland Mart has also recorded a similar drop in prices for younger animals.

"There is a total lack of confidence in the market for young animals, ranging from suck calves up to yearlings," said Richard Harnett.

"Friesians are back up to €100/hd and beef breeds are back €50-70/hd in the last fortnight."

Yearling Friesians of 300kg sold for €400-450/hd in the past week, while Hereford and Angus cattle of the same weight made €500-530/hd.

Older and plainer stores were not much better, barely scraping €400-450 over the weight for 550-600kg animals.

"There are some terrible cheap cattle being sold at the minute. We need another boatload to go to Libya – including Friesians – to stop the dumping of cattle that's going on at the minute."

Kilmallock Mart reported a drop of 20-50c/kg on the price of Friesian and lighter weanling bullocks, to prices of just €1.50-1.80/kg.

"Up to two weeks ago, farmers were buying cattle to go out on grass but that's all stopped now," said Denis Kirby of GVM.

However, he said Angus, Hereford and Continental cattle of all ages were doing well in the ring.

The trade has not been as badly hit in the northern half of the country. Michael Murphy of Balla Mart in Co Mayo said prices had held so far but he warned that if the weather didn't improve, prices could fall.

Delvin Mart manager John Gilligan said that while there were higher numbers of small and young cattle coming into the mart, prices had not yet fallen.

"Every second farmer tells me he's got no fodder but I wouldn't say the trade has been affected yet," he maintained.

Irish Independent