Qual­ity stock the big win­ners as prices start to sta­bilise

Irish Independent - Farming - - BEEF RINGSIDE -

THE mart trade has seen a lot of price fluc­tu­a­tions over the last five to six weeks in both the heifer and bul­lock sec­tions.

Last week, how­ever, fac­tory prices sta­bilised and in some cases rose which led to a bounce in mart prices in all sec­tions bar the heifers.

That 5c/kg in­crease in base prices to €3.80/kg was also ac­com­pa­nied by the first se­ri­ous flush of au­tumn buy­ers hit­ting the con­crete.

With cat­tle sold and cheque books primed, all they needed were suit­able num­bers and suit­able qual­ity, they got both.

With av­er­age bul­lock prices ris­ing by be­tween 3-12c/kg across all weight divisions it was a good week to be a seller. But it was the men with qual­ity to sell that were the big win­ners.

While that 3c/kg rise is at the lighter end and equates to be­tween just €9-12/hd in the 300-399kg sec­tion, the 12c/kg av­er­age rise oc­curs in both the 500-599kg and 600kg+ sec­tions which equates to a €60-72/hd in­crease.

The av­er­age in­crease in the 400-499kg sec­tion is half that at 6c/kg but that’s still €24-30/hd.

How­ever, the real story is in the de­tail.

The big win­ners last week from the seller’s point of view were those with bet­ter con­for­ma­tion bul­locks.

All the av­er­ages for the bet­ter con­for­ma­tion bul­locks out­per­formed the in­creases in the prices of their lesser con­for­ma­tion com­rades by some dis­tance.

In the 300-399kg sec­tion, the top quar­ter rose 9c/kg to av­er­age €2.68/kg while the poorer qual­ity an­i­mal stayed static at €1.47/kg.

In the 400-499kg sec­tion, the bet­ter qual­ity bul­lock rose by 10c/kg or from €40-50/hd with the poorer an­i­mal gain­ing just 2c/kg or €8-10/hd.

The 500-599kg sec­tion saw the big­gest rise with the bet­ter bul­lock gain­ing 17c/kg or from €85-102/hd.

The bet­ter bul­lock over 600kg rose a min­i­mum of €84/ hd. In both these divisions the poorer an­i­mal rose 6c/kg or from €30-36/hd.

Buy­ing power

The mes­sage from the mar­ket place is clear that those buy­ing have a clear pref­er­ence for qual­ity and are will­ing to pay for it. The other is­sue that comes up ev­ery year at this time is the ques­tion of num­bers.

Sev­eral mart man­agers I spoke to over the week­end asked these ques­tions: how long will it be be­fore we run out of the good store bul­lock and how long be­fore all we get is the dairy in­dus­tries cast offs be they Friesian Angus or Here­ford?

For now, though, those with buy­ing power are press­ing on. “Ev­ery­thing is get­ting sold at a fair price,” was the ver­dict of one mart man­ager in the west.

Things in the heifer trade did not move so well last week with prices fall­ing across the board, up to 15c/kg or €90 as in the case of the top end heifer in the 600kg+ sec­tion, in what was de­scribed as a “de­mand­ing trade” by more than one mart man­ager.

Will the heifer swing around? The men with money and sheds to fill will de­cide if and when that hap­pens.

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