Cattle marts: Heifer prices increase, but feedlot buyers dwindle

The number of cattle presented for sale has remained high – especially in the midlands, west, east and north, while some marts in the south have noted smaller sales in recent days.

The cow trade has held firm, despite the large numbers coming through. However, prices for cows coming straight from the parlour are hovering around the €1.00/kg mark or maybe a shake higher.

Again, following the trend, short-keep cattle are most in demand. Mart managers have also noted a slight increase in heifer prices over recent days.

As was the case last week, the reduced demand from feedlot buyers has continued. These operators seem to have reached the numbers needed; however, farmer activity is still steady.

The weanling trade has come under some pressure – mainly due to the quality of the lots on offer; quality lots are firm, but dairy origin stock are still an easier trade.

Ballinrobe Mart

Cattle numbers were reported to be similar to the previous week’s sale at Ballinrobe Mart on Wednesday last, with buyers putting a huge emphasis on quality when making purchases.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 565kg – €1,450 or €2.57/kg;
  • Limousin: 485kg – €1,195 or €2.46/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 395kg – €1,110 or €2.78/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 420kg – €1,005 or €2.39/kg.

The top price in the dry cow category went to a Charolais cross cow. She weighed 930kg and fetched €1,710 or €1.84/kg. Furthermore, a Charolais cow with a heifer calf at foot made €1,750.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 585kg – €1,325 or €2.26/kg;
  • Limousin: 550kg – €1,245 or €2.26/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 475kg – €1,055 or €2.22/kg.

Carnew Mart

A smaller sale of 320 weanlings were on offer last Wednesday at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow; a good trade was noted for all classes of stock.

There were reports of increased exporter activity with a strong demand for quality, well-muscled, E and U-grade weanlings. It was also noted that weanling bulls – weighing under 450kg – made €550-1080/head, while those weighing over 450kg made €750-1,280/head.

Furthermore, weanling heifers under 450kg made €730-1,160/head and the heavier lots (>450kg) commanded a price of €730-1,350/head.

Castlerea Mart

The mart’s manager Brendan Egan outlined that large numbers of stock were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart on Thursday last, November 15.

Unsurprisingly, the weather is having an influence on the number of lots presented for sale, with more farmers opting to trade their cattle as ground conditions deteriorate.

Reports suggest that there was an improvement in the quality of heifers going into the ring. These good-quality lots were met with brisk trade and an excellent clearance was reported.

In the weanling rings, the demand remained strongest for the quality lots on offer, with plainer lots still proving difficult to get away.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 400kg – €1,040 or €2.60/kg;
  • Charolais: 405kg – €1,000 or €2.46/kg;
  • Limousin: 480kg  – €1,285 or €2.68/kg;
  • Charolais: 530kg – €1,335 or €2.52/kg.

In addition, cows with calves at foot sold for €1,080-1,740/unit and springers traded for €890-1,720/head.

Sample weanling heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 260kg – €765 or €2.94/kg;
  • Charolais: 370kg – €990 or €2.67/kg;
  • Charolais: 300kg – €800 or €2.67/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 315kg – €1,015 or €3.22/kg.

A large number of runners were also presented for sale, with prices ranging from €225/head to €660/head for continental lots.

Sample weanling bull prices:
  • Charolais: 295kg – €995 or €3.37/kg;
  • Charolais: 360kg – €1,165 or €3.24/kg;
  • Limousin: 360kg – €1,130 or €3.14/kg;
  • Limousin: 380kg – €960 or €2.53/kg.

On Monday, November 12, 200 bullocks passed through the ring of the Roscommon-based venue. Quality lots were reported to be in demand, but plainer steers were a difficult sell. Prices for these lots ranged from €350/head to €845/head along with their weight.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 460kg – €1,125 or €2.45/kg;
  • Limousin: 540kg – €1,370 or €2.53/kg;
  • Charolais: 610kg – €1,415 or €2.31/kg;
  • Limousin: 685kg – €1,435 or €2.09/kg.

Kilkenny Mart

On Tuesday last, Kilkenny Mart hosted a sale of 250 weanlings and the mart’s auctioneer George Candler noted that the quality of the lots presented had slipped compared to previous weeks.

Weanling bulls over 400kg fetched €850-1,060/head or €2.05-2.45/kg, while those under 400kg made €700-1,000/head or €2.25-2.60/kg.

Sample weanling heifer prices:
  • Hereford: 230kg – €360 or €1.57/kg;
  • Limousin: 245kg – €610 or €2.49/kg;
  • Limousin: 295kg – €760 or €2.58/kg;
  • Charolais: 345kg – €900 or €2.60/kg.

Lighter bullocks – weighing less than 300kg – commanded a price of €550-750/head or €2.20-2.85/kg.

Sample weanling bullock prices:
  • Limousin: 270kg – €710 or €2.63/kg;
  • Charolais: 365kg – €850 or €2.33/kg;
  • Limousin: 405kg – €940 or €2.32/kg;
  • Charolais: 435kg – €1,060 or €2.44/kg.

There was a smaller sale of 780 cattle last Thursday, but trade was reported to have been much sharper compared to the previous week’s sale – mainly due to the lower numbers on offer.

There was a good trade for quality continental type bullocks weighing 500-560kg. These lots fetched €40-60/head more than last week.

Heifers were met with a similar trade to the previous week. Quality lots are still demanding the best prices, while the cull cow trade remains challenging.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Limousin: 320kg – €680 or €2.13/kg;
  • Simmental: 545kg – €1,140 or €2.09/kg;
  • Charolais: 520kg – €1,095 or €2.11/kg;
  • Charolais: 775kg – €1,400 or €1.81/kg.

In the bullock ring, steers (<400kg) sold for €525-880/head or €1.40-2.30/kg, while the heavier lots (400-500kg) made €600-1,230/head or €1.50-2.50/kg.

Lots falling into the 500-600kg category sold for €700-1,380/head or €1.70-2.45/kg and lots weighing 600kg upwards made €1,050-1,530/head or €1.80-2.40/kg.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 345kg – €690 or €2.00/kg;
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,230 or €2.48/kg;
  • Hereford: 525kg – €935 or €1.78/kg;
  • Charolais: 700kg – €1,530 or €2.19/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows sold for €0.60-1.30/kg and the continental types made €1.20-1.75/kg.