Last week’s sunshine saw more buyers at ringside and online, with beef on our ringside tables from 400kg, generally 3-7c/kg better.
However, 300-399kg beef slid again, down 7c/kg to €2.23/kg. And while 400-499 kg beef was stronger at €2.41/kg, an increase in the number of lower quality yearlings caused some averages to drop.
Gerry Finnerty of Ennis noted that some lighter cattle were harder to sell as they are “light for their weight considering their age”. — because they were very badly brought up.
“They are cheap for a reason — their quality and how long it will take to make something out of them,” he said. “You graze them this summer, overwinter them, then graze them and maybe feed them next summer. It is a very long road and a very uncertain road considering the costs.
Robert de Vere Hunt of Cashel said of the trade in lighter livestock: “If you have grazed the ground, there is nothing that comes back.
“It doesn’t seem to have affected the animal over 500kg because there just aren’t enough of them, but there are a huge number of dairy calves that weren’t exported in 2021 that are now showing up. like yearlings and the market reacts to them.”
Other observers estimate that many of these poor 250-350 kg cattle received no additional feed during the winter.
“Given their age, they should be heavier if fed, maybe 30-40kg heavier. They are empty and simple,” an insider said.
The majority of these oxen and weanlings are dairy cross Friesians, Angus and Herefords, as well as lesser colored animals from the suckler herd.
Another issue affecting the lighter cattle trade is the number of moves on the cards. Several store managers have noted that buyers are very sensitive when it comes to young cattle with three or more moves.
“A lot of them were sold as calves last year or were bred under contract so they have extra moves on the cards,” an official said.
“The guys who buy them know they will probably resell them in the fall and are afraid that the measures will go against them, and that the guys who kill them in the long term could lose the quality assurance premium of 20c/kg.
There is a geographical divide when it comes to the trade in these steers and weanlings of 250 to 400 kg.
In areas where dairy is less important, there are fewer problems, with Eoin Kane of Drumshambo and Patsy Smith of Dowra reporting that bull and 250-400kg beef are holding up well, with shippers helping to maintain a floor under their price.
The general consensus is that the trade is going through a period of adjustment due to all the cost uncertainty and the inability of buyers to plan for the long term with confidence.
On a more positive note, Eoin Kane says, “Once the weather gets better and the grass comes, more men will buy these lighter cattle.”
As an old friend of mine keeps reminding me, when it comes to lighter young cattle, “they will grow despite you Martin”.
In the Know – around the markets
Gerry Finnerty said shippers have helped move some of his lighter, simpler weaned bulls, with Angus types costing on average around €2.00/kg.
Sample prices among the heaviest heifers included €2.90 to €2.97/kg for Charolais and Limousins from 590 to 750 kg.
The best Hereford heifer from 400 to 585 kg sold for between €2.20 and €2.38/kg, while four Angus from 547 kg sold for an average of €2.52/kg.
Heavy Frisian slaughters run from €1.80-2.03/kg, while Continentals over 700kg and above frequently exceed €2.60/kg.
Top calls included a 960kg Limousin at €2,960 and a 740kg Simmental at €2,160/kg.
A big sale, with David Quinn noting forward and beef types up around €50/hd. Factories and feedlots were particularly active.
“A very strong trade for heavy oxen with well over 700kg doing €2,200-2,300,” he said.
U-category 500kg steers fetched €2.80-3.20/kg, Rs 2.60-2.70€/kg and 500kg Angus €2.50-2.70/kg, while that similar weights on the Hereford side sold for between €2.30 and €2.50/kg.
Heifers of 420 kg earned 2.60-2.70 €/kg, the best 2.90 €/kg.
Simpler weaned bulls and steers under 400 kg continued to struggle, however, back 20-30 €/hd.
Last week’s sale saw a slight drop in numbers but still very high prices, with beef cattle selling for €770-1,180/hd above €/kg.
Advanced stores made €800-1150/hd above the weight, with a 620kg Continental making €1870/hd or €3.02.
The €3/kg mark was also reached for the lightest, with two 430 kg Limousins at €1,290/hd; the general range was 490 to 860 €/hd with the weight.
Advanced heifers sold for between €800 and €1,035/hd with €/kg, while lighter heifers earned between €470 and €800/hd with weight.
Continental cull cows were selling for between €440 and €1,190/hd with the weight, while the heavy Frisians earned between €500 and €660/hd with the €/kg.
Robert de Vere Hunt reported another strong sale, with advanced cattle and very strong cull cows, although lighter and simpler dairy types remained under pressure.
Good Friesian steers over 480kg grew at €2.00/kg, with a 455kg Angus at €2.20/kg, while a better 260kg Angus sold for €2.30 €/kg.
As for the heifers, the samples included 417 kg Angus at €2.58/kg, 390 kg Hereford at €2.51/kg and a 535 kg Charolais at €2.56/kg, while 505kg Limousins peaked at €2.67/kg.
Eoin Kane noted that farmers are watching developments in global and agricultural costs carefully. “You can never be sure what might happen”
That said, big cattle have held firm here, with 600kg bullocks and heifers and sales ranging from €2.60-2.80/kg, while good 500kg bullocks and heifers have made 2, 60 to 2.85 €/kg.
Eoin pointed out that even though there was price pressure for lighter stock, the top yearling 340kg Limousin bulls were still selling for €950/hd, with Charolais reaching €1,000/hd.
Good cull cows over 600 kg continue to “freely earn €1,500 to €1,600/hd”.
Stephen Hannon described the trade as “stable as it goes” for steers and heifers over 500kg, with “no limit to what a dry cow could do”.
The best steers or heifers over 700 kg earned €2.50-2.60/kg, the simplest at €2.40/kg. In the 500-700kg category, prices were typically €2.60-2.70/kg, with the tops fetching €2.90-3.10/kg.
Stephen noted that heavy cull cows sell for €2.50/kg with feeder types at €1.80-1.90/kg.
The simpler 280-350kg weaner and yearling stock fetched €650-750/hd, although the best 300kg continental is still up at €900/hd.
Another strong entry did not dampen demand from factory and feedlot agents, with beef and beef cattle selling for between €2.50 and €3.10/kg.
In the advanced warehouse section, farmers’ demand brought quality continental prices to €2.60-3.20/kg.
For those looking for something more traditional, Angus stock ranged from €2.10-2.60/kg, with Friesian beef €1.70-2.20/kg.
Strong trade for plump cull cows saw a peak call of €1,910/hd.