Cattle marts: Weaker factory prices fail to dampen the appetite for stores

Up to €95 has been knocked off the value of the average base steer since the end of July. In addition, heifer prices have also suffered; the average base heifer has dropped by €79/head over this period.

As it stands, factory buyers are offering 375-380c/kg for steers and heifer negotiations are starting at 385-390c/kg.

However, weakening factory prices have failed to have an impact on farmers’ appetite for stores and these buyers remain very much in the driving seat when it comes to mart purchases.

Along with farmer demand, mart managers have also noted that factory agents and exporters continue to remain active at the ringside.

The combined efforts of these three groups are helping to maintain store cattle prices – for the time being anyway.

Castlerea Mart

Thursday’s sale in Castlerea Mart featured an entry of 650 cattle. According to the mart manager, Brendan Egan, the trade held steady for most of the classes of stock on offer.

“Bullocks and heifers were similar in price to previous weeks,” he said.

The best of the forward steers on offer sold for €2.32-3.19/kg, the latter price was paid for a Charolais steer weighing 520kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Limousin: 465kg – €1,105 or €2.47/kg;
  • Charolais: 530kg – €1,320 or €2.49/kg;
  • Charolais: 565kg  – €1,370 or €2.42/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 615kg – €1,480 or €2.41/kg;
  • Limousin: 690kg – €1,600 or €2.32/kg;
  • Charolais: 510kg – €1,285 or €2.52/kg.

Moving on to heifers, the best of the lighter types traded at €2.54-2.79/kg and the forward classes made €2.10-2.26/kg.

Egan added: “Weanlings met a lively trade, with strong export demand and farmer buying increased.” The best of the weanling bulls made €2.60-3.14/kg and prices of €2.68-2.88/kg were achieved for weanling heifers.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Limousin bull: 285kg – €895 or €3.14/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 450kg – €1,170 or €2.60/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 275kg – €850 or €3.09/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 290kg – €815 or €2.81/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 360kg – €965 or €2.68/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 290kg – €790 or €2.72/kg.

The mart manager added that breeding stock also reported good clearances. Prices of €1,340-1,700 were paid for cows with calves at foot and in-calf cows traded at €1,340-1,575.

Kilkenny Mart

A smaller cattle sale, consisting of 680 animals, was seen in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill on Thursday than previously, according to the mart’s auctioneer, George Candler.

“Cull cows met a good selling trade, helped by the fact that numbers were scare,” he said. The continental culls on offer made €1.55-2.33/kg and the Friesian types made €0.90-1.65/kg.

In addition, he said, quality heifers also met a good trade as small numbers were on offer. The heavier lots (500-600kg) made €2.00-2.45/kg, €2.00-2.80/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.80-2.55/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Hereford: 620kg – €1,260 or €2.03/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 550kg – €1,350 or €2.45/kg;
  • Limousin: 525kg – €1,240 or €2.36/kg;
  • Hereford: 495kg – €1,030 or €2.08/kg;
  • Charolais: 360kg – €910 or €2.53/kg;
  • Limousin: 330kg – €800 or €2.42/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority sold at €2.35-2.70/kg. Holstein-influenced steers, which were more difficult to sell, sold for as low as €1.50/kg and Angus prices stood at €1.80-2.25/kg.

Ennis Mart

Trade was strong for all quality lots at last Tuesday’s sale in Ennis Mart, according to the mart’s Danny Moran.

Moran said: “There was a large number of buyers around the ring including: exporters; agents; and farmers.

Bull and heifer weanling prices continued to be quite similar, he said, and prices of €2.06-3.70/kg were paid for such animals. Weanling heifers traded at €2.00-3.13/kg.

Sampling weanling prices:
  • Charolais bull: 280kg – €1,035 or €3.70/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 350kg – €1,080 or €3.09/kg;
  • Belgian Blue bull: 410kg – €1,100 or €2.68/kg;
  • Belgian Blue heifer: 395kg – €1,010 or €2.56/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 375kg – €1,065 or €2.84/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 400kg – €1,180 or €2.95/kg.

Moving on to the cow trade, Moran said suckler cows with calves at foot traded at €1,000-1,710 and in-calf suckler cows made €750-1,400.