Prices hold firm despite rising numbers at the marts
‘Now we’ll see what money is in the country,” was the reaction from one beef finisher upon hearing that banks maybe about to start charging account holders for keeping money on deposit.
His worry wasn’t that some might decide to empty their accounts, but rather a fear that some in the cattle trade might decide to buy extra stock as security, and drive mart prices even higher in the process.
In reality, and without raiding their bank accounts for the communion money, those buying cattle at present appear to have plenty of cash to spend.
Despite a lot of marts reporting very strong numbers for the time of year, prices for both bullocks and heifers continue to hold well.
Bullocks were in general up 1-2c/ kg, while prices for heifers up to 600kg eased back by just 1-3c/ kg. The only exception was the 600kg+heifer prices here dropped 7c/kg to €2.08/kg.
The big question is why are numbers so strong at marts.
There appears to be no one reason. I fully accept that stock have done very well and are probably a month to six weeks ahead of most other years.
And with mart prices continuing to remain strong there is a definite logic if you’re a seller to moving stock now as opposed to a month’s time.
What seems to have gotten lost in the conversation is the fact that for prices to stay strong, buyers have to be willing to engage at those prices.
There is certainly a serious level of confidence among those purchasing when you consider that current prices for bullocks are anything from 19c/kg to 35c/kg stronger than they were this time last year, with heifers currently 18-30c/kg better.
On the factory side, beef quotes at
€3.70-3.80/kg are roughly 20-25c/ kg better than this time last year.
Several mart managers over the last month have told me that some of the prices they’ve seen given by factory agents would require a factory price of €4.20/kg just to break even.
Apart from the better prices, helping to pull stock into the marts there also appears to be a feeling of uncertainty in relation to what would happen should a second wave of Covid-19 strike later in the year.
Are some buyers stocking up now in the hope of avoiding difficulties in acquiring numbers should that happen?
Wet field conditions across a lot of the country are also playing a part in bigger mart numbers as store men chose to lighten the load on their ground.
It’s a similar situation for those with beef in these areas as they lighten the load on the land earlier than normal thus creating additional demand for replacements ahead of time.
Despite, or maybe because of, smaller numbers prices for weanlings moved upwards last week with the Ringside tables showing the better 400-600kg bull up by €52-78/hd which in turn helped to bring his overall average up by €40-60/hd.
Weanling numbers are small so far, with one mart manager reckoning that they won’t be there as before because of the fall-off in suckler numbers.
That’s a simple but accurate observation — no suckler cow equals no beef calf.
There’s a long way to go to Christmas but at this point it looks like being a very interesting back end.
There is a serious level of confidence among buyers when you consider that prices for bullocks are 19-35c/kg higher and heifers 18-30c/kg higher than this time last year