Cattle marts: Bullock store price increase better news for farmers

Over the past number of weeks, it has been well documented that forward store cattle prices have remained under pressure – mainly due to the uncertainty that surrounds the beef industry and the continuous low prices on offer at the factory gate.

A backlog of cattle which accumulated on the back of protests – and as a result of deteriorating ground conditions in many parts – has also added to farmers’ woes.

In recent weeks – since parties involved in the beef protests stood down – farmers have battled with factories to get cattle booked in for slaughter, resulting in long delays.

Processors have prioritised the cattle they wish to slaughter, resulting in some cattle going over age and ‘out of spec’; this has had a knock-on effect at the ringside, as farmers cannot return to the marketplace to purchase replacement stores.

Having said that, over the last week or so, mart managers have noted an increased demand for heavier – in-spec – bullocks, which – in some cases – resulted in better prices. However, the heavier bullock deemed out-of-spec is still difficult.

This demand or increase in confidence will be welcome news for farmers, and mart managers have noted the presence of feedlot buyers at the ringside – providing a much-needed boost to the forward bullock trade.

Some of these better prices include €2.37/kg for a 570kg Limousin-cross bullock at Headford Mart and €2.50/kg for a Limousin bullock weighing 505kg at Kilkenny Mart on Thursday last.

The forward heifer trade is similar or slightly better than the steer trade – depending on age and spec of course. Some of the better prices included €2.35/kg for a 460kg Limousin heifer at Headford Mart and €2.14/kg for a Limousin heifer in Kilkenny.

Across the country, the weanling trade is steady for the 300-400kg bull, with heavier types proving a harder sell, while top-quality heifer weanlings are touching the €2.50/kg mark.

A boatload of weanling bulls are currently on route to Turkish shores via the livestock carrying vessel – the Express 1 – having departed from Greenore Port on Saturday last and is expected to dock in 14 days’ time.

This is the second boatload of weanling bulls sourced by Meath-based exporting company, Viastar. It is understood that a third boatload will be shipped later this year.

Also, another livestock carrying vessel – the Atlantic M – will ship 500-600kg, dairy-origin Friesian bulls to Libya this week from Co. Cork.

Carnew Mart weanling sale

Some 560 weanling heifers and bulls went under the hammer at Carnew Mart on Wednesday last, October 30; a full clearance was reported by the mart’s manager, David Quinn.

Starting with bulls, those weighing in excess of 400kg made €770-€1,120/head or €1.85-2.52/kg. Weanling bulls weighing less than 400kg sold for €530-1,010/head or €1.62-2.78/kg.

Moving to heifers, those coming in over 400kg were bought for €740-970/head or €1.72-2.35/kg and those weighing less than 400kg sold at €470-910/head or €1.65-2.71/kg.

Headford Mart

Headford Mart held its weekly cattle sale on Saturday last, November 2. On the day, bullock prices ranged from €125 to €780 over or from €1.28/kg to €2.55/kg, according to the mart’s manager Joe Wynne.

In the bullock ring, a Limousin-cross bullock weighing 570kg achieved the top price of €1,350 or €2.37/kg and another Limousin-cross bullock made €1,200 or €2.55/kg.

In the heifer ring, these lots made €185-630 along with the weight or €1.45-2.35/kg. A Charolais heifer achieved a top price of €1,350 (€1.88/kg); she weighed 720kg. Furthermore, €2.35/kg (€1,080) was paid for a Limousin-cross heifer weighing 460kg.

Looking to weanling heifers, these animals sold for €130-575 over or €1.42-2.85/kg. A Charolais weanling heifer weighing 310kg sold for €885 or €2.85/kg.

Moving to weanling bulls, prices ranged from €170-565 along with the weight, or €1.62-2.82/kg. A Limousin bull – weighing 365kg – was bought for €930 or €2.55/kg. The top price on a €/kg basis went to a Charolais bull weighing 250kg; he sold for €705 (€2.82/kg).

Cull cows were reported to sell for €710-1,360/head.

Raphoe Mart

Last Thursday’s sale, October 31, in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal, saw an improved trade for better-quality, ‘in-spec cattle and also for plainer-type heifers, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

However, she noted that bulls and plainer bulls were a much harder sale.

Bulls weighing 600kg and over sold for €580-865/head, while store bullocks fetched €350-725 over. Heavier beef heifers traded for €470-740 along with their weight and lots which require further feeding sold for €300-620 over.

In addition, dry cows sold for €465-1,140/head.

Kilkenny Mart

Some 1,200 cattle went under the hammer at Kilkenny Mart on Thursday last, October 31.

The mart auctioneer George Candler said: “There was a bigger sale with buyers  after in-spec cattle. Quality Friesian bullocks peaked at €1.86/kg, with the bulk of the continental bullocks ranging from €1.80/kg to €2.30/kg – exceptional lots sold from €2.35-2.60/kg.

“The bulk of heifers attracted prices of €1.90-2.30/kg,” he added.

He also noted that the cow trade saw a reduction in price.

Sample steer prices:
  • Limousin: 690kg – €1,495 or €2.17/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 730kg – €1,200 or €1.64/kg;
  • Limousin: 505kg – €1,265 or €2.50/kg;
  • Charolais: 490kg – €1,120 or €2.29/kg;
  • Friesian: 450kg – €800 or €1.78/kg;
  • Limousin: 360kg – €780 or €2.17/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 345kg – €600 or €1.74/kg;
  • Hereford: 325kg – €600 or €1.85/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows traded for €0.60-1.25/kg, while continental types sold for €1.05-1.87/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 590kg – €1,240 or €2.10/kg;
  • Simmental: 620kg – €1,300 or €2.10/kg;
  • Limousin: 500kg – €1,010 or €2.02/kg;
  • Charolais: 470kg – €900 or €1.91/kg;
  • Limousin: 445kg – €1,010 or €2.27/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 350kg – €530 or €1.51/kg;
  • Hereford: 360kg – €600 or €1.67/kg.