Cattle marts: ‘If exports don’t pick up we could be in for a very dull autumn’

Farmers could be faced with a very difficult end to 2016 if cattle prices do not improve, according Mohill Mart’s Steven Hannon.

Speaking to Agriland, the Mart Manager said bull weanling prices are already €50-70/head lower than the same time last year.

Hannon said that weanling numbers continue to remain small, but the majority of the Limousin and Charolais bulls on offer on Saturday sold from €2.10-2.30/kg.

And, he admitted that he is worried what the market faces when the real glut of weanlings comes on stream in September and October.

“The weanling trade is under pressure, if exports don’t get underway it could be a very dull autumn,” he said.

But despite the fall in weanling bull prices, he said that weanling heifers are performing OK and Charolais types weighing 300-320kg are selling to a top price of €3/kg.

Hannon said that there is also a severe lack of confidence among beef finishers and this is having a negative impact on the trade for store cattle.

Cattle buyers are unsure of what the next six months holds or what way factory prices are going to go.

In recent sales, he said that the prices being paid for plainer store cattle, particularly Hereford and Angus steers, has dropped considerably.

Most of these cattle are now struggling to break the €2/kg mark, he said, with the majority selling from €1.80-1.90/kg.

He also said that the lack of UK and Northern Irish buyers has had a negative impact on the trade, especially for continental heifers weighing in the region of 500kg,

And, he said that a lot of these heifers have struggled to make €1,200.

The Mart Manager said that UK buyers added to the heifer trade this time last, but they have yet to make an appearance around the ring this year.

Mountrath Mart

There was some improvement in the weanling trade in Mountrath Mart on Thursday, according to the Mart Manager JJ Peters.

Peters said that last Thursday’s sales was the best in a long time, with weanling bulls up by €70-80/head on previous weeks.

The Mart Manager said there was plenty of farmer buyers for the Limousin and Charolais weanlings on offer and these lots generally sold from €2.50-2.60/kg.

But, he added that the top E grade Belgian Blue weanling bulls met with a tougher trade, with prices back by 30c/kg on last year.

The majority of these bulls traded from €2.90-3.00/kg, he said, down by about €100-120/head on last year.

“There is a lack of demand in Italy and the continent for these bulls and exporters are not very active,” he said.

However, despite the fall in demand for top-class Belgian Blue bulls, he said that the heifer trade is continuing to meet a good trade with top class store heifers selling from €2.30/kg and up.

Tullow Mart

There was a good trade for cattle in Tullow Mart on Friday, according to the Mart Manager Eric Driver.

Driver said there was a few more cattle on offer than the previous week and beef cattle prices had improved by €20-30/head compared to the week earlier.

But, despite the fall in weanling prices seen in other venues, Driver said that the weanling sales have yet to really kick into gear in Tullow.

He said that the small number of weanlings on offer a met a good trade, with Charolais and Limousin lots making from €2.25-2.50/kg.

However, he did mention that there has been some reduction in the demand for top quality blue bulls as weanling exports to Italy are simply not happening.