Mart trade: Lighter cattle take a hit, but quality lots hold firm

In recent days, the prices achieved by good-quality cattle have remained firm, while lighter cattle – particularly those with dairy influence – have met a more difficult trade.

The number of cattle in sales yards are small and this reflects the time of year. However, good clearances have been achieved.

Heavier cattle – both heifers and bullocks – are a steady trade and short-keep and beef cattle have seen little change from last week.

Farmers and exporters drove the trade when it came to weanlings. Factory-fit cows and feeder types – on the back of the price cuts implemented by the beef processors – have struggled to breach the €2.00/kg mark.

However, some mart managers have noted that the quality lots have managed to do so; but, these numbers are small in the grand scheme of things.

Ennis Mart

The number of cattle presented for sale – on Thursday, June 21 – was reported to have increased on the previous week’s sale in Ennis Mart.

In the bullock ring, lighter stores were a slightly easier trade, according to the mart’s Michael Martin. However, heavy bullocks and forward-type steers sold well and both farmers and agents drove the trade on the day.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 680kg – €1,600 or €2.35/kg;
  • Limousin: 452kg – €1,300 or €2.87/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 655kg – €1,520 or €2.32/kg;
  • Hereford: 670kg – €1,460 or €2.18/kg.

In the heifer ring, good-quality heifers were reported to be a strong trade. Aged bulls sold to a top call of €1,520; this was a Charolais bull and he weighed 905kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 320kg – €845 or €2.64/kg;
  • Charolais: 470kg – €1,270 or €2.70/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 525kg – €1,060 or €2.01/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 525kg – €1,480 or €2.82/kg.

Despite procurement managers talking down the trade in recent days, feeder and beef cows were reported to have met a strong demand. According to Michael, many of these quality lots broke the €2.00/kg mark.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Limousin: 680kg – €1,520 or €2.23/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 500kg – €1,050 or €2.10/kg;
  • Charolais: 830kg – €1,660 or €2.00/kg;
  • Friesian: 620kg – €1,180 or €1.90/kg.

Raphoe Mart

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

She said: “Friesian cattle sold for up to €2.00/kg and Aberdeen Angus lots sold up to €2.15/kg; continental cattle sold up to €2.80/kg.”

Top-class bulls, weighing >600kg, sold at €545-700 over, the mart manager stated. Beef bullocks made €630-760 over.

In the heifer ring, beef heifers sold for €675-815 over and store heifers traded for €350-730 over. Moreover,  fat, well-fleshed cows traded for €600-1,335/head.

Tullow Mart

Some 350 cattle were on offer at Tullow Mart on Friday, June 22. According to the mart’s Eric Driver, the trade seems to be “struggling” and prices were back €10-20/head. However, a full clearance was achieved.

Friesian forward store bullocks sold for €1.90/kg, while store Hereford and Angus types – weighing >400kg – traded for €1.95-2.20/kg – depending on quality.

In general, continental forward bullocks traded for €950-1,020/head. Continental stores weighing >400kg traded for €2.20-2.90/kg.

Friesian and Hereford steers weighing <400kg sold for €1.80-2.20/kg and good-quality continentals sold from €2.20/kg up to and over €3.00/kg.

Moving to heifers, store types traded for €2.00-2.70/kg; Hereford and Angus store lots sold for €2.00-2.90/kg.

In the cull cow ring, Friesian feeder-type cows traded for €150-400 over and continental cows sold for €250-700 over.

Friesian bull calves – suitable for export – sold for €110-190/head. Angus and Hereford heifer calves traded for €120-320/head, while continental types sold to a top price of €380/head.

Balla Mart

A slightly larger sale was witnessed at Balla Mart on Saturday last, June 23. Prices were reported to have increased for lighter bullocks; these animals proved popular among farmers.

Bullocks weighing 300-400kg sold to an average price of €2.68/kg and the heavier lots (400-500kg) traded at €2.31/kg on average. The mart’s Michael Murphy added that beef bullocks (>500kg) averaged €2.18/kg on the day.

According to Michael, there was a good demand for these stronger, heavier bullocks and prices remained firm.

Sample steer prices:
  • Belgian Blue: 365kg – €1,105 or €3.03/kg;
  • Charolais: 455kg – €1,250 or €2.75/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 620kg – €1,500 or €2.42/kg.
  • Charolais: 530kg – €1,385 or €2.61/kg.

180 heifers went under the hammer and lots weighing up to 400kg sold for an average price of €2.41/kg; the heavier lots (400-500kg) traded at €2.41/kg on average, while heifers (>500kg) made an average price of €2.40/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 230kg – €880 or €3.83/kg;
  • Limousin: 385kg – €1,060 or €2.75/kg;
  • Charolais: 615kg – €1,575 or €2.56/kg;
  • Limousin: 435kg – €1,270 or €2.92/kg.

Michael also outlined that some cows and calves were a “great touch”. The best of these, he said, was an October-2013 born Limousin cow. Accompanied by her heifer calf, the pair sold for €2,000.

The best of the dry cows, he said, was a 925kg, January-2007 born, Charolais cow; she made €1,960. In general, dry cows averaged €1.88/kg.