Bad weather lands body blow to beef prices

Irish Independent - Farming - - BEEF RINGSIDE -

PADDY Power book­mak­ers were so cer­tain that they paid out in ad­vance of the much-touted Conor McGre­gor and Floyd May­weather con­test.

They weighed up the odds and it brought them to one con­clu­sion, a May­weather win, with no ex­cep­tions.

McGre­gor vs May­weather is to box­ing what the cat­tle trade vs bad weather is to mart prices — a fore­gone con­clu­sion that equals falling prices.

The trade has seen a fair share of move­ment over the last few weeks as ner­vous­ness around a weak­en­ing ster­ling, falling fac­tory prices and in­creas­ing mart num­bers all played their part in set­ting the mar­ket tone. The sin­gle big­gest fac­tor though as we head into Septem­ber has to be the weather.

Leav­ing the del­uge that fell on parts of the north-west last week aside, ground con­di­tions across the coun­try have been de­te­ri­o­rat­ing for about three weeks. This has been due more to the fact that dry­ing con­di­tions have been very poor as op­posed to any sin­gle big rain event; it’s been a case of a lit­tle but of­ten in many places.

Three weeks ago mart prices fell back, two weeks ago they re­bounded and last week they once again went into de­cline.

There was no es­cap­ing the feel­ing at a lot of marts last week that au­tumn is com­ing.

An overview of the ring­side fig­ures for last week does give some room for op­ti­mism. Firstly the over­all av­er­age falls among the bul­locks is only be­tween 2-3c/kg or from €6-15/hd, with the av­er­age of the 500-599kg sec­tion hold­ing steady at €2.02/ kg. Se­condly, the ma­jor­ity of the heifer weight di­vi­sions fell last week by be­tween 2-8c/kg or from €8-42/hd. How­ever, the 600kg+ heifer con­tin­ued where she left off two weeks ago and again posted a pos­i­tive re­turn, adding 6c/kg or €36/hd to her over­all av­er­age.

Added to her 3c/kg rise of two weeks ago, she’s up a nice touch at €54/hd over those two weeks.

More sig­nif­i­cant still is the fact that the poorer qual­ity heifer rose 18c/kg last week which is an im­pres­sive €108/hd.

As al­ways at this time of year, the spin from the fac­to­ries is that beef prices have to fall back if men are go­ing to be able to af­ford to put cat­tle into sheds.

The ques­tion is what type of bul­lock might pay the best at cur­rent prices if you in­tended fin­ish­ing them in­side.

Is it your av­er­age 500-599kg con­ti­nen­tal at €2.19/kg that works out at €1,095-1,312/hd or would the top of the An­gus in that same 500-599kg weight divi­sion that of­fers a quicker re­turn? At the top end, the av­er­age last week of €2.07/kg means the money would be less as well at €1,035-1,240/hd.

Or is it a case you’d go the long road and do as some tra­di­tional shed men have done over the last few years and ease back on win­ter fin­ish­ing and con­cen­trate on “stor­ing” cat­tle over the win­ter aim­ing to fin­ish off of grass early to mid sum­mer?

In that case is the bet­ter Friesian the way to go?

In their case, the bet­ter mart price per kilo is at the heav­ier end of the table with the bet­ter 600kg+ Friesian mak­ing €1.87/ kg as op­posed to €1.82/kg for the top end in the 300-399kg sec­tion.

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