Cattle marts: Larger sales, but uncertainty surrounds the autumn trade

As we enter autumn, there is a level of uncertainty surrounding the mart trade. Dairy-influenced stock continue to flood the market and remain the toughest trade.

Exporters have been quiet around the rings in recent weeks, mainly due to the currency fluctuations with the Turkish lira. This will have consequences – especially on the weanling bull trade.

This week, factories have moved to tighten their stranglehold on the market. Bullocks are now trading at 380-385c/kg and factory-fit heifers are being purchased at 390-395c/kg.

To add to the problem, feed shortages – in some parts of the country – and spiralling feed costs are going to have a serious impact on farmers’ demand for cattle going into the back end. We may even see more cattle coming on stream as time progresses as farmers off-load stock.

Over the past number of days, mart managers have outlined that the trade remains steady for forward and beef animals; lighter dairy-bred stock are still struggling.

Weanling sales have been a talking point; the lack of export activity has weakened competition ringside. However, quality is the main driver of price and better-quality lots are meeting a good trade.

Kilkenny Mart

Kilkenny Mart’s auctioneer George Candler outlined that they had one of the biggest sales of the year on Thursday last. He also noted that forward and beef types remained a steady trade.

However, the trade for bullocks and heifers under 380kg was reported as difficult. And, the fact that eight Hereford heifers – bred from the dairy herd – weighing 380kg only sold for €535 or €1.40/kg is a major concern.

Then – on the other hand – in the same ring, five Limousin heifers weighing 365kg sold for €905 or €2.47/kg.

On the day, the heavier heifer lots made €1.80-2.45/kg, €1.80-2.50/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.35-2.55/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 640kg – €1,550 or €2.25/kg;
  • Simmental: 690kg – €1,550 or €2.42/kg;
  • Limousin: 510kg – €1,150 or €2.25/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 495kg – €910 or €1.84/kg;
  • Limousin: 360kg – €905 or €2.51/kg;
  • Hereford: 335kg – €500 or €1.49/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority traded for €620-1,560/head.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 670kg – €1,560 or €2.33/kg;
  • Hereford: 540kg – €1,120 or €2.07/kg;
  • Limousin: 450kg – €1,150 or €2.56/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 415kg – €735 or €1.77/kg;
  • Charolais: 365kg – €1,070 or €2.93/kg;
  • Hereford: 300kg – €460 or €1.53/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows traded for €1.00-1.87/kg, while continental types sold for €1.25-2.05/kg.

Carnew Mart

Some 1,220 cattle went under the hammer at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, on Saturday last (September 1).

David Quinn, the mart manager, said that beef and quality cattle continue to meet a very strong demand, while plainer dairy-bred cattle are slower to sell.

Beef and forward bullocks sold for €580-1,040 over, while continental store lots made €430-840 over and Friesian steers sold for €100-580 along with their weight. Early-maturing bullocks went under the hammer for €220-650 over.

In the heifer ring, butcher lots sold for €530-840 over, while store heifers made €350-750 along with their weight. Hereford and Angus heifers made €180-440 over.

Moving to cows, beef cows fetched €360-650 over, while store lots made €100-380 over.

Castlerea Mart

700 cattle were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday (August 30). According to the mart’s manager, Brendan Egan, there were better-quality stores on offer.

He said: “Bullocks and heifer numbers have increased in recent weeks and demand for the quality forward stores has resulted in a good trade, with bullocks making as high as €1,080 over for the top-quality lots on offer.”

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 420kg – €990 or €2.35/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 375kg – €980 or €2.61/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 575kg – €1,430 or €2.48/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 490kg – €1,285 or €2.62/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 485kg – €1,195 or €2.46/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus bullock: 485kg – €1,260 or €2.59/kg.

Brendan also noted that the heifer and cow trade has remained firm. The weanling trade was reported to be varied with a good demand for quality lots; however, lighter types are a harder sell. Breeding stock and runners also realised better prices last week.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 280kg – €800 or €2.85/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 220kg – €615 or €2.79/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 290kg – €840 or €2.89/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 270kg – €835 or €3.09/kg.

Furthermore, cows with calves at foot made €910-1,540/pair and calves/runners sold for €355-730/head.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Charolais: 790kg – €1,695 or €2.14/kg;
  • Limousin: 660kg – €1,355 or €2.05/kg;
  • Limousin: 675kg – €1,350 or €2.00/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 735kg – €1,345 or €1.82/kg.

Raphoe Mart

Last Thursday’s sale in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal, featured a “much larger” entry of cattle, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

The trade was reported to be similar to previous weeks with quality, in-spec cattle in demand; however, lighter, plainer types were described as difficult.

Top-class bulls (weighing over 600kg) sold at €600-960 over, the mart manager stated, and store bullocks made €400-900 over.

Beef heifers made €500-895 over and store heifers traded at €350-735 over or €2.00-2.90/kg. Fat, well-fleshed dry cows sold for €590-1,730/head.

Macroom Mart

Macroom Mart’s sale took place on Saturday last (September 1). Dry cows traded at €120-685 along with the weight and a Limousin cow – weighing 745kg – made the top price on the day; she sold for €1,430. A Friesian cow – weighing 720kg – made €1,030.

Moving to the bullock trade, early-maturing lots sold for €210-485 over, while continental types made €290-600 over.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 565kg – €1,165 or €2.06/kg;
  • Charolais: 470kg – €1,030 or €2.19/kg;
  • Charolais: 450kg – €1,005 or €2.33/kg;
  • Hereford: 465kg – €925 or €1.98/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 580kg – €1,065 or €1.83/kg.

In the heifer ring, heifers traded for €180-560 along with the weight.

Sample heifers prices:
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,030 or €2.08/kg;
  • Charolais: 450kg – €1,010 or €2.24/kg.

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