Cattle marts: Weanling trade boosted by continued export demand

A number of exporters are actively sourcing stock from all parts of the country. This is having a positive effect on the weanling trade and, from speaking with suckler farmers, prices have exceeded expectations in many cases.

The forward and store cattle trade remained difficult over the past week, but as of Sunday night last (September 22), all farmer-led protests outside the country’s meat processors officially stood down.

A lot of farmers held on to cattle in recent weeks to see how the protests would unfold. Now that these have ceased, will we see a more positive trade going forward?

The fine weather which braced the country relieved some of the pressure on farms; however, heavy rainfall over the weekend will force many farmers’ hands. For finishers who were waiting to kill cattle, now that the factories are back open, will they return to the marketplace to purchase stock?

Last week, the good weather and the National Ploughing Championships – in Fenagh, Co. Carlow – led to smaller sales in some instances.

When it comes to weanling prices, quality is the main driver, with good-quality stock making decent prices.

Dowra Mart

A slightly larger sale of cattle took place at Dowra Mart, on Saturday, September 21, according to the mart’s manager Patsy Smith.

Over 400 cattle were on offer and the trade was reported to be good for quality weanlings; however, plainer cattle and those deemed “out of spec” were a harder sell, Patsy said.

Weanling heifers weighing under 300kg sold to a top price of €760 or €2.62/kg. This was achieved by a Charolais heifer weighing 290kg.

Other prices in this section included €755 for a 290kg Charolais heifer and €750 for a Simmental heifer weighing 240kg.

The top-priced weanling heifer in the 300-400kg category went to a 375kg Charolais heifer; she sold for €940 or €2.50/kg.

Heifers weighing 400-500kg sold well. The best price on the day for these heifers was €1,070 or €2.22/kg. Again, this was a Charolais heifer weighing 480kg.

In addition, heifers weighing over 500kg sold to a top price of €1,360 or €2.66/kg; this Limousin heifer weighed 510kg.

Sample weanling heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 240kg – €685 or €2.85/kg;
  • Limousin: 380kg – €880 or €2.31/kg;
  • Charolais: 430kg – €950 or €2.20/kg;
  • Charolais: 540kg – €1,170 or €2.16/kg.

Moving to weanling bulls, looking at bulls weighing under 300kg, the top price went to a Charolais bull weighing 290kg; he sold for €820 or €2.82/kg.

Bull weanlings in the 300-400kg category, the best price went to a 390kg Charolais bull; he went under the hammer for €950 or €2.43/kg.

The top price in the 400-500kg store bullock category went to a Simmental bullock weighing 475kg; he sold for €2.40/kg.

Sample weanling bull prices:
  • Charolais: 250kg – €765 or €3.05/kg;
  • Limousin: 330kg – €870 or €2.63/kg;
  • Charolais: 480kg – €970 or €2.02/kg;
  • Simmental: 440kg – €885 or €2.01/kg.

A number of dry cows also went under the hammer on the day; some sample prices are listed below.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Hereford: 635kg – €1,150 or €1.81/kg;
  • Limousin: 620kg – €1,140 or €1.83/kg;
  • Charolais: 680kg – €1,090 or €1.60/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 825kg – €1,135 or €1.37/kg;
  • Limousin: 730kg – €1,080 or €1.47/kg.

Raphoe Mart

Last Thursday’s sale (September 19) in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal, featured a smaller entry of cattle – due to the fine weather and the National Ploughing Championships, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

Anne noted that buyers were in the market for “in-spec” cattle which lead to a good trade for these lots. However, plainer cattle and bulls were a harder sell, the manager said.

Bulls weighing in excess of 600kg sold for €500-695 over, while beef bullocks made €580-700 along with the weight; store bullocks were reported to sell for €350-690 over the weight.

Moving to heifers, beef lots made €450-785 over, while lots which require further feeding sold for €300-635 along with the weight.

Prices on a €/kg basis were €1.70-2.30/kg for bulls, €1.90-2.40/kg for bullocks and €2.00-2.50/kg for heifers.

In addition, dry cows sold for €860-1,315/head.

Headford Mart

Headford Mart held its weekly cattle sale on Saturday last, September 21. On the day, bullock prices ranged from €180 to €775 over or from €1.38/kg to €2.46/kg, according to the mart’s manager Joe Wynne.

A Charolais bullock weighing 615kg achieved the top price of €1,390 or €2.26/kg. Looking at the top price on a €/kg basis, this went to a Charolais bullock weighing 325kg; he sold for €800 or €2.46/kg.

In the heifer ring, these lots made €175-820 along with the weight or €1.48-2.42/kg. A Limousin heifer achieved a top price of €1,410 (€2.39/kg); she weighed 590kg. Furthermore, €2.42/kg (€1,330) was paid for a Limousin heifer weighing 550kg.

Looking to weanling heifers, these animals sold for €340-625 over or €2.06-2.98/kg. A Charolais weanling heifer weighing 315kg sold for €940 or €2.98/kg.

Moving to weanling bulls, prices ranged from €290-675 along with the weight, or €1.69-3.14/kg, according to the mart manager.

Cull cows were reported to sell for €400-950/head, while cows with calves at foot made €1,570/unit.

Carnew Mart

Some 462 cattle and 105 calves went under the hammer in Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, on Saturday last.

David Quinn, the mart manager, said: “A large entry of quality continental cattle met a strong trade for both beef and store types, with quality forward lots selling up to €2.38/kg; light continental bulls sold to €2.55/kg.”

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 540kg – €1,220 or €2.25/kg;
  • Limousin: 630kg – €1,370 or €2.17/kg;
  • Simmental: 514kg – €845 or €1.64/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 436kg – €800 or €1.83/kg.

Sample bullock prices:

  • Charolais: 334kg – €740 or €2.21/kg;
  • Charolais: 530kg – €1,200 or €2.26/kg;
  • Charolais: 564kg – €1,210 or €2.14/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 559kg – €985 or €1.76/kg.

In addition, 100 dry cows were reported to sell to a top price of €1,810; this Limousin cow weighed 956kg.

Sample cow prices:
  • Charolais: 586kg – €1,010 or €1.72/kg;
  • Limousin: 956kg – €1,810 or €1.89/kg;
  • Charolais: 774kg – €1,200 or €1.55/kg;
  • Friesian: 646kg – €840 or €1.30/kg.

Castlerea Mart

On Thursday last, Castlerea Mart held its annual show and sale of weanlings, which saw just shy of 500 lots go under the hammer.

According to the mart’s manager, Brendan Egan, there was a strong demand from both exporters and farmers – as well as feedlots – which resulted in a good clearance with the “top-quality bulls” making as high as €4.00/kg and heifers topping out at €3.75/kg.

Sample weanling bull prices:
  • Charolais: 270kg – €1,080 or €4.00/kg;
  • Charolais: 290kg – €900 or €3.10/kg;
  • Limousin: 435kg – €1,300 or €2.98/kg;
  • Charolais: 315kg – €900 or €2.85/kg.

Sample weanling heifer prices:

  • Charolais: 290kg – €1,090 or €3.75/kg;
  • Charolais: 265kg – €845 or €3.18/kg;
  • Limousin: 325kg – €975 or €3.00/kg;
  • Charolais: 310kg – €865 or €2.79/kg.

“It was refreshing to see such a good demand, and gives a welcome boost to the suckler sector; other categories of stock reported a good trade also, with a good clearance taking place,” Brendan explained.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Simmental: 650kg – €1,365 or €2.10/kg;
  • Limousin: 425kg – €945 or €2.22/kg;
  • Charolais: 475kg – €1,020 or €2.14/kg;
  • Charolais: 580kg – €1,280 or €2.20/kg.

Furthermore, springers made up to €1,080/head, while cows with calves at foot made €1,080-1,770/unit. In addition, a number of dry cows also went under the hammer at the Roscommon-based venue.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Limousin: 735kg – €1,445 or €1.96/kg;
  • Charolais: 715kg – €1,375 or €1.92/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 770kg – €1,370 or €1.77/kg;
  • Friesian: 470kg – €500 or €1.06/kg.

Moving to the calf ring, these lots were reported to sell for €190-745/head.

Additionally, the bullock sale resumed on Monday last, September 16, with 120 bullocks on offer. These bullocks made €300-710 over the weight – with an average price of €446 over paid.

Brendan noted that the sale witnessed a good demand for stores.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 485kg – €1,195 or €2.46/kg;
  • Charolais: 450kg – €1,090 or €2.42/kg;
  • Charolais: 525kg – €1,180 or €2.24/kg;
  • Limousin: 625kg – €1,250 or €2.00/kg.

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