Quality stock the big winners as prices start to stabilise
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.
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.