More slip­page as con­fi­dence drains from the mar­ket

Irish Independent - Farming - - BEEF RINGSIDE -

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.

Damo­cles

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.

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