Early in the summer, my wife purchased an outdoor inflatable pool for the children.
It was wonderful while it lasted. They loved it.
Anyhow, about three weeks ago, the pool developed a leak, and no matter how I tried to repair it, the thing keeps losing pressure.
I blame the cats and their claws for causing the leak.
But then again I would blame the cats, because I despise cats.
Anyway, my point today is simply to draw your attention to the similarities that exist between my leaking inflatable pond out the back, and the multi-million euro cattle trade that goes on in our country’s marts.
The similarities are astounding.
At the start of the summer, those of us in beef farming, a bit like my children with their pond, were all giddy with excitement, looking forward to the prospect of a long blissful summer ahead.
But then, relations between beef processors and farmers took a turn for the worst, and what would seem to have happened is that the beef business in general has lost momentum.
It seems we have lost our rhythm. Or like my inflatable pond, the pressure is no longer there.
And now, with protesting farmers having returned to their farms, and talks concluded with the rich and powerful meat lobby, the air still appears to be lacking from our business.
The overall pressure that was there one month ago has not returned.
Our business, the mart trade, has a puncture, and I’m not sure if anyone knows how to fix it.
Cattle prices at the mart are back, they have been so for three weeks.
Regardless of quality, across the board, most noticeable is the market slump for the 400kg quality continental store.
The price is back €200 a head on last year, back €100 on three weeks ago.
And while I’d love to blame the cats for this problem also, alas I can’t, and I won’t.
To me, it just looks like a sign of the overall dejection that now exists in the life of a beef farmer.
A feeling of dejection from years of let-downs. And this, for all our sakes, is not good.
And so we head to the marts, beginning in my home town of Macroom, where on Saturday, dry cows sold from €90 under to €400 over the kilo.
Friesian bullocks made from €170 to €345 with the kilo.
Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €260 to €455 with their weight.
Continental bullocks made from €310 to €545 with their weight.
Heifers in Macroom mart made from €240 to €515 with the kilo.
Weanling bulls sold from €230 to €480 over the kilo.
And staying on the subject of weanlings, Macroom mart manager John O’Mahony told me that the mart will be holding its first weanling show and sale of the season on next Saturday, August 24.
Macroom has of course always been an exceptional venue for quality weanling stock.
4 Fr steers 545kg 890
8 AA steers 505kg 960
4 Lm steers 465kg 1010
1 Lm heifer 395kg 870
4 AA heifers 400kg 780
1 Ch cow 755kg1155
1 Lm cow 665kg 1000
Kanturk mart on Tuesday had 580 cattle on offer, this number included 75 calves.
Mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe, reporting on the sale, remarked “Prices are steady, with some farmers anxious to sell due to heavy rain over the past two weeks.”
And on Tuesday, September 10, Kanturk mart will hold a show and sale for spring born weanlings.
This sale, sponsored by Boherbue Co-Op Creameries, will have show categories in Limousin, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Simmental, and a mixed class.
Intakes open from 7am, show cattle must be penned by 10am.
Judging is from 10.30am, with prizes to the value €2,000 on offer.
The sale of show cattle is at 1pm.
3 Ch steers 625kg 1100
2 Lm steers 552kg 1080
3 Ch heifers 540kg 1030
2 Hr heifers 560kg 965
2 AA heifers 507kg 920
1 Fr cow 760kg 1,070
1 Hr cow 695kg 970
Next to Castleisland mart manager John Humphreys.
“We had big crowds around the ring here on Wednesday with continental cull cows selling well.
“And even though we are now selling weanlings on Monday, we still had some for our Wednesday general sale, and they were making good enough money, considering the uncertainty people are having to endure at present with Brexit down the road.
“And as an example of prices here on Wednesday, a bundle of Charolais bulls made €2.27/kg.
“We had plenty of interest for cattle in the bullock ring, with a pen of heavy Limousin bullocks making €2.15/kg.
“Also heifers sold well, with Limousin heifers making €2.40/kg.”
Castleisland Mart had its annual weanling show and sale on Monday.
John had all the details, “We brought forward this sale by a few weeks due to many requests by farmers.”
“It was another very successful sale with shippers quite active.
“Again, lighter weanlings commanded the best prices, with great farmer interest here.”
Weanling bulls made up to €3.26/kg.
Weanling heifers at Castleisland mart made up to €2.69/kg.
“Sucks and runners were a flying trade, with runners making up to €4.18/kg.”
1 Lm steer 562kg 1210
1 Ch steer 544kg 1065
1 Lm heifer 350kg 840
1 Lm heifer 320kg 765
1 Ch cow 630kg 965
1 Lm cow 656kg 1030
1 Fr cow 702kg 1015
“Bullocks were a mighty trade here in Kilmallock,” Denis Kirby of GVM reported.
4 Ch steers 383kg 840
4 Hr steers 381kg 800
1 Ch steer 540kg 1070
3 Lim steers 477kg 950
4 Hr heifers 325kg 540
2 AA heifers 458kg 860
1 AA cow 550kg 900
“Even Friesian bullocks here on Monday sold for up to €1.85/kg.”
Beef bullock breeds sold for up to €2.20/kg.
Dry cows made up to €1060 a head, or €1.64/kg.
Heifers hit €2.04/kg.
Dairy stock in Kilmallock hit €1,080 (paid for a five-year-old calved cow).
The next weanling show and sale at Kilmallock mart will take place on Tuesday, September 10.
The mart’s next bull sale will be held on September 6.
Finally for this week, we go to Kilkenny mart and to mart manager, George Candler.
“We had a somewhat bigger sale of cattle in Kilkenny on Thursday, with bullock quality not as good as last week.”
Kilkenny mart had 600 cattle on offer.
“A larger yard of heifers meet with a better demand, especially for the quality lots.
Uncertainty into future planning remains a negative for all potential purchases.”
Bullocks in Kilkenny ranged in price from €1.40/kg to €2.60/kg.
Heifers made from €1.50/kg to €2.72/kg.
Continental cull cows in Kilkenny on Thursday sold from €1.35 to €2.03 per kilo, with Friesian culls making from €1.05 to €1.70 per kilo.
1 Ch steer 810kg 1580
5 Ch steers 550kg 1190
6 Fr steers 405kg 650
9 Hr steers 375kg 710
1 Ch heifer 680kg 1470
6 Lim heifers 490kg 1090
1 Sim heifer 310kg 630