Trade for lighter stock continues to improve
THE main feature of last week’s mart trade was the increase in numbers of stock coming on stream.
The current dry spell is effectively helping to shorten the winter and it is also helping keep farmers focused more positively on the future.
The last thing the trade needs is for the weather to break badly and those with stock to sell to begin to panic.
The general feeling among mart managers is that the trade last week remained steady for the better bullock or heifer, but that the lighter, longer-keep 300-400kg animal continued to improve.
“I reckon that average prices for bullocks are up €40-50/hd across the board” said Sean Ryan of Sixmilebridge Mart.
Michael Harty of Roscrea was more specific: “Everything was up, but the biggest lift was for the longer-keep lighter Angus, Friesian and Hereford type. They were up €100 on two weeks ago.”.
He picked a batch of eight 387kg Angus crosses as being typical. “Two weeks ago they would have made €730-740/hd, yesterday they got €855/hd.”
This story wasn’t replicated everywhere, but even in those areas in the south and east where numbers of those lighter dairy types can still cause problems, I had reports that more buyers were willing to take them on.
All of this positivity affected the Ringside averages for last week with improvements on the bullock table ranging from 1-20c/kg.
However, the best of those increases were, as Sean Ryan and Michael Harty indicated, in the lighter 300-400kg section.
The rest of the table from 400-600kg saw prices move in a band from -3c/kg to +3ckg, in other words the trade was largely steady at these weights. In the 600kg+ section things got a little more interesting with factory buyers and feedlot operatives helping to add 4c/kg to overall average prices.
On the heifer side, last week’s table can be divided into two with overall averages under 500kg rising by between 4-5c/ kg, while the lesser quality heifer jumped by between 7-10c/kg.
Above 500kg, overall average prices came back by between 4-7c/kg with the heavy 600kg+ heifer the worst affected.
The only reason I can think of as to why the 600kg+ bullock rose and the 600kg+ heifer fell is that factory demand is stronger for bullocks than heifers at present.
The IFA protested outside the Beef Forum last week about Minister Creed’s refusal to sanction their demands for a €200/ hd suckler cow premium.
There are some people in the trade who believe it would made more sense to take any money the Government might have available and use it to encourage a more extensive shipping trade for the increasing numbers of dairy calves coming through the system.
It’s not so much that by doing so you’d deprive the factories the option of cheaper numbers — it’s more a case that attempting to fatten dairy cast-offs is a chronic waste of time, money and effort.
There are some animals you just can’t put meat on with a trowel.
All I know for definite is that this week last year factory quotes for bullocks ran from €3.70-3.75/kg with heifers on €3.80-3.85/kg.
Ringside averages for bullocks across all weight divisions were a bare €20-30/hd better than they were last week.
However, prices for heifers this week last year were significantly better in some divisions. The 350-399kg heifer was up to €60/hd better while those above 500kgs were €36-54/ hd better.
The 400-499kg heifer was better this time last year by between €24-30/hd.
Last week’s surge in numbers was mopped up very successfully by those with cattle killed.
The question is will we see the price gap from last year, outlined above, close as the year goes on?