Cattle marts: Farmers switch to marts to ‘test’ factory buyers’ resolve

More farmers have marketed their cattle through marts in recent days. This comes as factory prices of 400-405c/kg for steers and 410-415c/kg for heifers are not appealing to many farmers.

Farmers, especially those with smaller numbers of grass cattle to offload, have opted to sell through the ring instead.

One seller said: “It’s our way of testing factory buyers on price and seeing how far they are willing to go to secure beef cattle.”

Another added benefit is the extra competition created when numerous factory buyers bid to secure the same animal in the ring.

In some cases, this can result in prices being achieved that are well in excess of what’s available at the factory gate.

Balla Mart

Saturday’s sale in Balla Mart featured a large entry of heavy steers and heifers, according to the mart’s Anthony Murphy.

Murphy said that the prices obtained for these heavy cattle were up by €160 compared to the corresponding period in 2016.

Steer prices

Looking at steer prices, stores (up to 400kg) sold for an average price of €2.60/kg. The best of these was an April-born Limousin. This steer weighed 375kg and sold for €1,080 or €2.88/kg.

Steers (400-500kg) met with a similar trade to last week and sold for an average price of €2.73/kg. The heavier lots on offer (500kg+) traded for an average price of €2.29/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • One Limousin steer: 290kg – €1,000 or €3.45/kg;
  • One Limousin steer: 375kg – €1,080 or €2.88/kg;
  • One Charolais steer: 460kg – €1,255 or €2.73/kg;
  • One Charolais steer: 580kg – €1,470 or €2.53/kg;
  • One Charolais steer: 665kg – €1,750 or €2.63/kg;
  • One Charolais steer: 745kg – €1,830 or €2.46/kg.

Exporters drive heifer prices

Some 190 lots of heifers also passed through the ring in Balla Mart on Saturday. As has been the case in recent weeks, light heifers continued to meet a strong trade due to the presence of Turkish buyers.

Heifers (up to 400kg) sold for an average price of €2.67/kg and lots suitable for export sold for over €3.16/kg.

There was also some great quality, heavy heifers on offer, Murphy said, and lots weighing 400-500kg made €2.50/kg. The heavier lots (500kg+) sold for an average price of €2.40/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • One Belgian Blue heifer: 275kg – €1,000 or €3.64/kg;
  • One Limousin heifer: 385kg – €1,100 or €2.88/kg;
  • One Limousin heifer: 485kg – €1,340 or €2.76/kg;
  • One Limousin heifer: 555kg – €1,555 or €2.80/kg;
  • One Charolais heifer: 660kg – €1,700 or €2.58/kg.

100 cows on offer

100 cows were also on offer on Saturday. Topping the in-calf cow category was a Limousin cow with a Limousin bull calf at foot. This pair traded for €2,300.

In addition, cull cow prices also remained in good health in the Mayo-based venue and these lots sold for an average price of €1.77/kg.

Carnew Mart

Some 680 cattle passed through the ring of Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow on Saturday. The sale featured a large entry of beef and forward cattle, according to mart manager David Quinn.

These lots met a very brisk trade and prices of €2.00-2.55/kg were achieved for beef and forward steers. Similar heifers traded at €1.95-2.42/kg or €570-1,007 over.

Sample steer prices:
  • Three Hereford steers: 603kg – €1,220 or €2.02/kg;
  • One Limousin steer: 580kg – €1,450 or €2.50/kg;
  • Two Limousin steers: 625kg – €1,500 or €2.40/kg;
  • One Charolais steer: 730kg – €1,700 or €2.34c/kg;
  • One Limousin steer: 690kg – €1,660 or €2.41/kg.

Farmers continued to drive the store trade in the Wicklow-based venue and the plainer Friesian types sold for €1.55-2.02/kg, while better-quality continental steers made €2.15-2.62/kg.

Saturday’s sale also featured a “special entry” of 60 suckler cows. Cows with calves at foot traded for €1,100-2,350 and in-calf cows made €800-1,340/head.

Sample cow prices:
  • One Charolais cow: 758kg – €1,550 or €2.04/kg;
  • One Belgian Blue cow: 856kg – €1,690 or €1.97/kg;
  • One Belgian Blue cow: 704kg – €1,340 or €1.90/kg;
  • One Simmental cow: 916kg – €1,780 or €1.94/kg;
  • One Friesian cow: 612kg – €865 or €1.41/kg.

Ennis Mart

Trade was strong for all classes of cattle in Ennis Mart on Thursday last, according to the mart’s Danny Moran.

Moran said: “Factory agents and farmers were all very active around the rings, while in the heifer ring a large crowd gathered to try and snap up the shorthorn heifers on show.”

The heifer trade was again firm, he said, but interest peaked for the 12 Shorthorn heifers on offer.

These weighted 310-390kg and sold from €700 up to a max of €1,340.

Sample heifer prices:
  • One Shorthorn heifer: 350kg – €1,340 or €3.83/kg;
  • One Limousin heifer: 495kg – €1,230 or €2.48/kg;
  • Three Charolais heifers: 420kg – €1,075 or €2.56/kg;
  • Three Hereford heifers: 481kg – €1,240 or €2.57/kg;
  • Four Charolais heifers: 501kg – €1,235 or €2.46/kg;
  • One Charolais heifer: 640kg – €1,470 or €2.30/kg.

Moran added that steers met an excellent trade, especially the beef and forward lots, and prices of up to €3.00/kg were achieved for some of the lighter lots on offer.

Sample steer prices:
  • Two Charolais steers: 360kg – €1,055 or €3.00/kg;
  • Three Limousin steers: 496kg – €1,290 or €2.60/kg;
  • One Charolais steer: 510kg  – €1,320 or €2.59/kg;
  • One Hereford steer: 655kg – €1,435 or €2.19/kg;
  • Six Limousin steers: 696kg – €1,845 or €2.65/kg;
  • One Limousin steer: 725kg – €1,670 or €2.30/kg.

Dry cows continued to meet a strong trade, Moran added, and prices of €1.62-2.04/kg were paid on the day.