Mart trade: Weak beef quotes damaging forward store prices

There’s no doubt that the latest developments with the EU-Mercosur trade deal and extremely low beef prices have left farmers wondering ‘where to next?’

But saying that, where quality cattle have been presented for sale, these animals have met a steady demand.

This, coupled with a smaller number on offer, has kept a floor under prices. However, forward cattle prices have taken a hit the ringside.

Poor-quality dairy-bred bullocks have had a negative impact on overall prices.

However, mart managers have noted that lighter steers and heifers have met a good demand from farmer customers. In addition, the best trade is for weanlings – both bulls and heifers.

Castlerea Mart

Some 350 cattle went under the hammer at Castlerea Mart on Thursday last, July 4, with the trade and prices holding firm, according to the mart’s manager, Brendan Egan, with more farmer activity around the rings.

According to Brendan, the weanling rings reported a strong demand also, even with the small numbers on offer. He also noted that suckler pairings topped out at €1,700/unit, with a good clearance recorded in the dry cow ring.

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Charolais bullock: 510kg – €1,140 or €2.23/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 630kg – €1,330 or €2.11/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 435kg – €950 or €2.18/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 425kg – €1,045 or €2.45/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus heifer: 470kg – €1,095 or €2.32/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 365kg – €950 or €2.60/kg.

Cows with calves at foot traded for €800-1,700/unit, while springers sold for €980-1,300/head.

Looking at the calf trade, smaller numbers were reported, with younger calves making €140-320/head, while runner types made €315-590/head.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 320kg – €955 or €2.98/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 320kg – €895 or €2.79/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 350kg – €850 or €2.42/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 420kg – €1,110 or €2.64/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 395kg – €1,050 or €2.65/kg;
  • Simmental bull: 460kg – €1,055 or €2.29/kg.

Raphoe Mart

A smaller show of cattle was reported at Raphoe Mart on Thursday last, July 4, with quality cattle easily sold, but Friesian types were harder to get away, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

Bullocks were reported to sell to a top call of €770 over, while heifers made a top price of €730 with the weight; fat cows were reported to sell for €1,520/head.

The mart manager Anne Harkin said: “Forward store cattle were in great demand with farmers and feedlot buyers both competing for these; plainer lots also sold well with these up in price from last week.”

Bulls weighing 600kg and over sold for €500-735 over, while beef bullocks fetched €500-770 over; store lots made €400-740 over.

Heavier heifers traded for €500-730 along with their weight and lots which require further feeding sold for €300-775 over.

Looking at prices achieved on a €/kg basis, bulls and bullocks sold for €1.80-2.50/kg and heifers fetched €2.00-2.60/kg.

Headford Mart

Headford Mart held its weekly cattle sale on Saturday last, July 6. On the day, bullock prices ranged from €108 to €790 over or from €1.27/kg to €2.39/kg, according to the mart’s manager Joe Wynne.

A Charolais bullock weighing 700kg achieved the top price of €1,490 or €2.13/kg. Looking at the top price on a €/kg basis, this went to a Limousin bullock weighing 560kg; they sold for €1,340 or €2.39/kg.

In the heifer ring, these lots made €235-635 along with the weight or €1.54-2.33/kg. A Charolais heifer achieved a top price of €1,170 (€2.19/kg); she weighed 535kg. Furthermore, €2.33/kg (€700) was paid for a Limousin heifer weighing 300kg.

Looking to weanling heifers, these animals sold for €250-740 over or €1.86-2.80/kg. A Charolais weanling heifer weighing 410kg sold for €1,150 or €2.80/kg.

Moving to weanling bulls, prices ranged from €284-595 along with the weight, or €1.82-2.51/kg. A Limousin bull – weighing 395kg – was bought for €990.

Cull cows were reported to sell for €830-1,290/head, while cows with calves at foot made up to €1,370/unit.

Kilkenny Mart

Some 500 cattle went under the hammer at Kilkenny Mart on Thursday last, July 4. A smaller sale was reported by Kilkenny Mart auctioneer George Candler.

He said: “Confidence has been badly dented, so the fact that numbers are reduced is a help in stabilising the trade.

“At least if Brexit was sorted, perhaps a bit more clarity would develop and then the Mercosur situation could be looked at; there is no clarity for store buyers at the moment,” he added.

On the day, the heavier heifer lots made €1.75-2.00/kg or €950-1,440/head; €1.60-2.20/kg or €800-1,050/head was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.70-2.50/kg or €600-950/head.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 780kg – €1,440 or €1.85/kg;
  • Hereford: 605kg – €1,150 or €1.90/kg;
  • Limousin: 590kg – €1,130 or €1.92/kg;
  • Charolais: 500kg – €1,050 or €2.10/kg;
  • Limousin: 450kg – €950 or €2.11/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 440kg – €820 or €1.86/kg;
  • Charolais: 390kg – €950 or €2.44/kg.

In the steer ring, lots weighing 600kg or over sold at €1.70-2.00/kg or €1,100-1,420/head, while bullocks weighing 500-600kg made €1.60-2.35/kg or €800-1,300 head.

In the 400-500kg bracket, steers made €1.40-2.60/kg or €500-1,180/head and the lighter lots – weighing 400kg or less – sold at €1.30-2.75/kg or €400-1,000/head.

Sample steer prices:
  • Limousin: 730kg – €1,420 or €1.95/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 660kg – €1,300 or €1.97/kg;
  • Charolais: 570kg – €1,300 or €2.28/kg;
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,180 or €2.53/kg;
  • Friesian: 380kg – €780 or €2.05/kg;
  • Charolais: 280kg – €730 or €2.61/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows traded for €0.90-1.60/kg, while continental types sold for €1.20-1.75/kg.