Over 116,000 cattle have been exported from Irish shores so far this year and the sourcing of these animals is having a positive impact on ringside prices.

Cattle exports have climbed considerably on 2016 levels – up by almost 35,000 head or 43% year-on-year.

Traditional calf importing countries, such as the Netherlands and Spain, continue to lead the way in terms of export volumes. However, shipments to Turkey and Libya have also given the market a much-needed boost.

Furthermore, exporters have also been active buying muscled cattle for the Italian market.

This market requires the top end of Irish weanlings and, already this year, exports to the Mediterranean state are up by 14.7% or 1,379 head on 2016 levels.

Given the rise in live cattle exports and the added competition in the market, the value of live cattle exports to beef farmers’ pockets cannot be underestimated.

This is particularly true when the additional 100,000 finished cattle that are predicted to come on-stream in 2017 are factored into the equation.

Increased exports this year are necessary to reduce the likelihood of a further increase in cattle supplies occurring in 2018.

Mart round-up

Balla Mart

Balla Mart held its final sale of the month on Saturday last and it featured a good entry of steers, heifers and cull cows.

The good trade witnessed in the last couple of weeks continued to hold and the prices achieved for cows were particularly strong.

Store steers (up to 400kg) sold for €550-750 over or an average price of €2.76/kg. The best of these was a Charolais (395kg) which sold for €1,150 or €2.91/kg.

Steers weighing 400-500kg averaged €2.31/kg, while the heavier classes (500+kg) sold for an average price of €2.28/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 260kg – €950 or €3.65/kg.
  • Charolais: 395kg – €1,150 or €2.91/kg.
  • Belgian Blue: 495kg – €1,390 or €2.81/kg.
  • Limousin: 550kg – €1,445 or €2.63/kg.
  • Charolais: 640kg – €1,750 or €2.73/kg.

There were also 270 lots of heifers on offer and the trade for these animals had improved slightly on the previous week’s sale.

Heifers weighing 400kg averaged €2.55/kg, while a heifer suitable for export broke the €3/kg mark at €1,200 or €3.04/kg.

Heavier heifers (400-500kg) averaged €2.39/kg and those weighing in excess of 500kg made an average price of €2.41/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 295kg – €860 or €2.92/kg.
  • Charolais: 395kg – €1,200 or €3.04/kg.
  • Limousin: 470kg – €1,285 or €2.73/kg.
  • Charolais: 500kg – €1,500 or €3.00/kg.
  • Charolais: 655kg – €1,650 or €2.52/kg.
  • Simmental: 715kg – €1,780 or €2.49/kg.

Moving on to the cows, the best of the springers was a four-year-old Belgian Blue with a Charolais calf at foot – the pair sold for €2,500. The dry cows on offer made an average price of €1.96/kg.

Looking at weanlings, weanling bulls (200-350kg) made €2.71/kg and their counterpart heifers averaged €2.57/kg.

Heavier weanling bulls and heifers (350-450kg) sold for an average price of €2.42/kg and €2.75/kg respectively.

Tullow Mart

There was a very large sale of cattle in Tullow Mart last Friday, where the trade remained strong for beef and forward cattle.

Friesian types sold for €780-1,040 over, while the young Charolais steers sold up to €1,760 or €2.44/kg.

Grass buyers continued to remain active for store steers in the Co. Carlow venue. Friesian lots made €1.90/kg, €2.10-2.30/kg was paid for Hereford and Angus types and the good continentals on offer pushed towards the €2.50-2.60/kg mark. The very best of these lots traded for up to €3/kg.

Switching to heifers, beef and forward lots met a lively trade. The Limousin and Charolais types on offer made €800-1,020 over, while the early-maturing heifers sold for €700 over.

Store heifers also met with a very lively demand and the plainer Hereford and Angus heifers made €2.10/kg.

The best of the Limousin and Charolais lots sold for €2.75/kg, while the majority sold for €2.30-2.60/kg.

Looking at cows, there was a very demanding trade for the dry Friesians. These traded at €150-300 over, while the heavier continental cows made €2.00-2.05/kg.

Castlerea Mart

Weanlings continued to meet a good trade in Castlerea Mart on Thursday, due to the activity of exporters and farmers at the ringside.

Some 550 cattle passed through the ring in the Co. Roscommon venue, where prices for forward store cattle and dry cows held firm.

The best of the latter sold for €1,500-1,900/head, while cows with calves at foot traded at €940-1,830/head.

There was also good demand for the store steers, the best of which made €2.44-2.65/kg. Similar type heifers also sold for €2.30-2.76/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Limousin: 470kg – €1,245 or €2.65/kg.
  • Charolais: 450kg – €1,185 or €2.63/kg.
  • Limousin: 500kg – €1,285 or €2.57/kg.
  • Charolais: 560kg – €1,460 or €2.61/kg.
  • Limousin: 550kg – €1,340 or €2.44/kg.
  • Angus: 635kg – €1,335 or €2.10/kg.
  • Angus: 710kg – €1,490 or €2.10/kg.

Looking at weanling prices, weanling bulls sold for €2.59-3.36/kg and their counterpart heifers made €2.44-3.08/kg.