Spring trade kicks into gear as buyers source quality store lots

This week, mart managers have reported an improved trade at various venues across the country. Farmers and factory agents have been busy sourcing cattle.

However, it must be noted that plainer types are proving more difficult to sell. This has resulted in a significant gap in the price between good-quality stock and poorer-quality animals.

This week, factory agents are currently offering a base of 390c/kg for steers, while heifers are trading at 400c/kg in most cases.

However, some farmers, especially those with large numbers of in-spec stock to market, have been receiving prices of 5c/kg above base quotes. At the upper end of the scale, this brings some heifers to 405c/kg.

This demand for cattle has filtered down to mart level, as procurement managers are making their presence felt ringside.

Ennis Mart

A slightly smaller sale took place in Ennis Mart on Thursday last; 250 cull cows went under the hammer. There were some very good-quality store bullocks on offer and this led to a slightly improved trade, according to the mart’s Danny Moran.

Cull cows were made up of 50% Friesian and 50% continental types.

However, Moran noted that numbers seemed to be back in the heifer ring.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 460kg – €1,200 or €2.61/kg;
  • Limousin: 478kg – €1,300 or €2.72/kg;
  • Limousin: 545kg – €1,390 or €2.55/kg;
  • Hereford: 505kg – €960 or €1.90/kg.

The number of aged bulls passing through the ring on Thursday was similar to the previous week. The best of these made a top price of €1,970.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,270 or €2.56/kg;
  • Hereford: 582kg – €1,310 or €2.25/kg;
  • Charolais: 445kg – €1,070 or €2.40/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 580kg – €1,280 or €2.21/kg.

On the day, forward cattle proved to be very popular.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Limousin: 765kg – €1,590 or €2.08/kg;
  • Hereford: 755kg – €1,370 or €1.81/kg;
  • Simmemtal: 770kg – €1,470 or €1.99/kg;
  • Friesian: 565kg – €790 or €1.38/kg.

Castlerea Mart

Some 500 cattle were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday (February 1). The trade was reported as good for all categories of stock.

Store cattle proved to be very popular as buyers tried to source quality lots for feeding.

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Aberdeen Angus heifer: 450kg – €1,070 or €2.37/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 405kg – €1,215 or €3/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 445kg – €1,080 or €2.42/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 400kg – €1,130 or €2.82/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 470kg – €1,250 or €2.65/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 505kg – €1,290 or €2.55/kg.

On the day, weanling bulls – in particular – were a very strong trade. The good selection of quality calves on offer resulted in an excellent clearance. Likewise in the heifer ring, quality lots were in strong demand.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Limousin heifer: 260kg – €765 or €2.94/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 360kg – €955 or €2.65/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 440kg – €1,225 or €2.78/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 265kg – €840 or €3.16/kg.

According to the mart’s Brendan Egan, cows with calves at foot made €780-1,560/head and in-calf cows traded for €950-2,000/head. The dry cow and breeding stock trade remained firm, he added.

Balla Mart

Approximately 1,020 cattle were on offer at Saturday’s (February 3) sale in Balla Mart. There were some good weanlings on offer and this was reflected in the prices achieved.

The mart’s manager, Micheal Murphy, reported an increased demand; clearance rates were better than the previous week. However – similar to last week – heavier bullocks weighing 600-700kg proved to be scarce.

Store bullocks (500kg) sold for an average price of €2.25/kg; the heavier lots (400-500kg) traded at €2.30/kg. Murphy added that over 400 heifers were on offer and prices were well up on the previous week’s sale.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 190kg – €740 or €3.89/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 285kg – €900 or €3.16/kg;
  • Belgian Blue heifer: 345kg – €1,010 or €2.93/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 375kg – €1,275 or €3.40/kg;
  • Belgian Blue bullock: 275kg – €935 or €3.40/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 435kg – €1,450 or €3.28/kg.

In addition, some 150 cows went under the hammer last week and Murphy said that quality lots met a great demand.

The best of these, he said, was a June 2016-born, in-calf Limousin cow. She sold for €1,620.

Tullow Mart

The annual female fat stock show and sale took place at Tullow Mart on Friday (February 2). Trade was reported as lively, with factory agents outbidding factory prices in the ring. Farmers were once again price makers not price takers.

Cull cows met a very lively and demanding trade. Some well-fleshed cows sold for over €2/kg. In addition, continental feeding types sold for €400/head over.

Farmers continued to drive the heifer trade in the Carlow-based venue. Beef heifers continued to meet a very lively trade. Good-quality continental types sold for €1,000-1,100/head. Heifers weighing over 600kg sold for €1,650-1,770/head.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus stores traded at €2.10/kg, while continental types sold for up to €2.80/kg. Furthermore, exceptional lots pushed closer to the €3/kg mark.

In the weanling ring, the heifers on offer met an exceptional trade. Lots sold for €2.35-2.80/kg, while heifers suitable for export traded for over €3/kg.

A full clearance was achieved on the day. 60 calves also went under the hammer on the day. Generally speaking, Friesian lots traded for €70-210/head. In addition, Hereford and Angus breeds sold for €120-350/head. Continental breeds traded for €300-410/head.

Raphoe Mart

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

The trade, she said, was lively, with great demand around the ring. This was mainly driven by feedlot buyers and farmers.

Top class bulls, weighing over 600kg, sold for €715-850 along with their weight. Beef bullocks traded at €600-902 over and lighter store steers sold for €410-909 over.

Beef heifers made €500-985 over and store heifers traded at €2.10-2.80/kg. Fat, well-fleshed cows sold at €625-1,565/head.

Kilkenny Mart

A smaller cattle sale, consisting of 550 animals, was witnessed in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Thursday last. However, the trade was sharper in all rings, according to the mart’s auctioneer George Candler.

The quality on offer was better than the previous week’s sale.

Cull cows met a good selling trade. The continental culls, he said, on offer made €1.35-2.26/kg and the Friesian types made €0.90-1.80/kg.

In addition, he said, quality heifers also met a good trade. The heavier lots (500-600kg) made €2.20-2.50/kg, €2.20-2.50/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.80-2.90/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 575kg – €1,410 or €2.45/kg;
  • Charolais: 85kg – €1,540 or €2.25/kg;
  • Limousin: 555kg – €1,370 or €2.47/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 440kg – €1,050 or €2.39/kg;
  • Charolais: 360kg – €900 or €2.50/kg;
  • Limousin: 270kg – €780 or €2.89/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality Friesian lots traded for €1.75-2.05/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Simmemtal: 590kg – €1,410 or €2.39/kg;
  • Charolais: 545kg – €1,410 or €2.59/kg;
  • Friesian: 485kg – €990 or €2.04/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 495kg – €1,040 or €2.10/kg;
  • Hereford: 380kg – €850 or €2.24/kg;
  • Limousin: 360kg – €975 or €2.71/kg.