More slippage as confidence drains from the market
DESPITE the feeling that the mart trade is starting to wind down for 2018, a number of marts are seeing a mini-surge in buyer numbers.
Patsy Smith of Dowra Mart said that despite those extra buyers, the trade saw cattle being “easier sold” — which sums up the continuing soft nature of the market.
The reason for that ‘softness’ is that with factory prices running 15-20c/kg behind where they were this time last year, and with feed and fodder prices higher, finishers have passed on the pain at ringside.
Yet again last week the vast majority of bullock prices averaged lower, this time by 1-4c/kg, although the Ringside figures for the forward store bullock from 500-600kgs show him as improving by up to 6c/ kg.
In the heifer section overall averages from 350-599kg slipped by 1-5c/kg, although the better 500-599kg animal gained 6c/kg, while the 600kg+ heifer rose by 1-5c/kg.
In rough summary the mart trade last week saw forward store bullocks up by €10-30/ hd, with everything else on the bullock side trading €1012/hd less.
On the heifer side the better-conformation 500-599kg heifer and her heavier 600kg+ sister both improved by €30/ hd, while everything else traded €5-40/hd less.
There is good news, however, as we enter the festive season. Des Morrison of ICMSA informs me that a renewal of trade with Libya the trade will see around 2,000 420-470kg bulls being shipped by the middle of this month.
The effect on the mart trade saw average weanling prices for bulls edge upwards by 6-15c/kg last week. The overall average price of the 400-600kg animal stayed static at €2.17/ kg, but the average price of the better bull at this weight did push on by 11c/kg to €2.64/kg.
On the weanling heifer table overall average prices also pushed on by 2-11c/kg.
However, that’s only half the story. Far larger increases were recorded among the better-conformation animals in both the 300-399kg and 400550kg divisions — up 27-31c/ kg, or €81-170/hd.
Yet the uncertainty about where prices may go in the New Year hangs over the entire trade like the sword of Damocles, as the effects of the dairy expansion continue to play out.
I attended the ICMSA AGM last week and posed the question to Minister Creed that the rapid expansion of the dairy herd had unbalanced the farming model in this country.
The minister said he did not think dairy expansion was “excessive” and believes “further expansion” is inevitable.
He was keen to emphasise the current lucrative nature of dairying especially if you were from a younger generation and considering entering farming as a career.