Mart trade: Sluggish trade, but lighter store cattle increase in price

From speaking with mart managers and indeed farmers in recent days, it is clear that both suckler farmers and finishers are proceeding with an air of caution when it comes to purchasing stock.

And why wouldn’t they? With poor prices on offer in the factories and with a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, farmers are playing the waiting game to see what the next couple of weeks throw up.

The mart trade has remained sluggish since the turn of the year and the number of cattle presented for sale is still on the small side.

The continued grass growth and mild weather has farmers thinking about buying cattle for grass. However, these too are proceeding with caution as who can forget the spring of 2018.

On the other hand, a number of calves are beginning to come on stream as we enter in the third week of January and the number of these animals is set to accelerate in the coming weeks and months.

Despite the uncertainty, mart managers – in some parts – have noticed an improvement in price for lighter, store cattle.

Carnew Mart

Some 630 cattle went under the hammer in Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, on Saturday last. David Quinn, the mart manager, said that there were more farmers in the market for cattle.

In addition, exporters gathered around the ring and were in the market for quality heifers and bull weanlings.

Beef and forward store bullocks made €630-840 along with their weight. Continental store bullocks made €450-780 over, while Friesian steers sold for €80-360 along with their weight.

Looking at the heifer trade, beef lots made €550-790 over and store heifers fetched €280-730 over. A number of bulls also went under the hammer and these animals sold for €350-630 with their weight.

In addition, beef cows fetched €300-630 over and store cows made between €100 under the weight and €350 over.

Furthermore, a number of calves were also presented for sale; some sample prices are listed below.

Sample calf prices:
  • Continental bulls: €220-365/head;
  • Continental heifers: €130-310/head;
  • Friesian bulls: €60-210/head;
  • Hereford/Angus bulls: €160-280/head;
  • Hereford/Angus heifers: €100-285/head.

Castlerea Mart

240 cattle were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday last, January 10. According to the mart’s manager, Brendan Egan, younger stock in particular recorded the best improvement in price with a strong demand.

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 420kg – €1,000 or €2.38/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 600kg – €1,380 or €2.30/kg;
  • Simmental heifer: 490kg – €1,080 or €2.20/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 460kg – €1,100 or €2.40/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 450kg – €1,035 or €2.30/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus bullock: 425kg – €945 or €2.22/kg.

He said: “The bullocks and heifers recorded good clearances also, while in the weanling rings – even though the numbers presented were small – demand was improved.”

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 375kg – €1,000 or €2.66/kg;
  • Hereford heifer: 345kg – €625 or €1.81/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 275kg – €775 or €2.81/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 265kg – €695 or €2.62/kg.

Furthermore, springers made €710-1,300/head, while a number of dry cows also went under the hammer at the Roscommon-based venue.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Simmental: 830kg – €1,590 or €1.91/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 770kg – €1,450 or €1.88/kg;
  • Friesian: 440kg – €440 or €1.00/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 455kg – €600 or €1.31/kg.

Again, like other marts dotted across the country, young calves are beginning to come on stream. On the day, calves sold for €150-370/head, while runners sold at €400-745/head.

Raphoe Mart

Last Thursday’s sale (January 10) in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal, featured a “good” entry of cattle at the first sale of the year at the venue, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

“All buyers returned to the ringside and quality cattle remain the most wanted and easiest sold, while Friesian types are the most difficult to sell,” she explained.

Beef bullocks sold for €580-615 over, while store lots made €380-760 along with the weight. On the heifer front, animals went under the hammer for €480-730 over and store heifer sold at €350-685 along with their weight.

In addition, dry cows sold for €500-1,480/head.

Kilkenny mart

Kilkenny Mart’s auctioneer George Candler outlined that the trade was “solid rather than spectacular” at the mart on Thursday last, January 10.

Again, following the nationwide trend, poor factory prices are damaging farmers’ confidence when it comes to purchasing stock.

George highlighted that cull cows and heifers were the easiest sell, while quality animals were few and far between.

On the day, the heavier heifer lots made €1.80-2.30/kg or €1,060-1,550/head; €1.65-2.35/kg or €750-1,020/head was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.50-2.45/kg or €500-950/head.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 700kg – €1,260 or €1.80/kg;
  • Hereford: 625kg – €1,130 or €1.81/kg;
  • Friesian: 580kg – €1,010 or €1.74/kg;
  • Simmental: 545kg – €1,180 or €2.17/kg;
  • Limousin: 445kg – €1,050 or €2.36/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 465kg – €990 or €2.13/kg;
  • Friesian: 380kg – €620 or €1.63/kg;
  • Charolais: 335kg – €780 or €2.33/kg.

In the steer ring, lots weighing 600kg or over sold at €1.70-2.00/kg or €950-1,260/head, while bullocks weighing 500-600kg made €1.60-2.30/kg or €850-1,260 head.

In the 400-500kg bracket, steers made €1.50-2.45/kg or €680-1,180/head and the lighter lots – weighing 400kg or less – sold at €1.40-2.55/kg or €460-950/head.

Sample heifers prices:
  • Limousin: 755kg – €1,550 or €2.05/kg;
  • Limousin: 605kg – €1,330 or €2.20/kg;
  • Hereford: 475kg – €910 or €1.92/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 420kg – €810 or €1.93/kg;
  • Limousin: 390kg – €950 or €2.44/kg;
  • Simmental: 370kg – €760 or €2.05/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows traded for €0.70-1.60/kg, while continental types sold for €1.30-1.95/kg.