Reopening of US beef trade helps create market buoyancy, but old concerns persist

Macroom Mart Manager John O'Mahony

We are certainly going through some hardy mornings at the moment. Mornings where a shot of ‘easy start’ wouldn’t go astray, writes Denis Lehane

My old tractor could certainly have done with a spray this morning as she sluggishly came to life and indeed, if a human form of the stuff was to come onto the market, I would wholeheartedly welcome it.

Anyway, I went to Kanturk mart on Tuesday morning and while it wasn’t as cold a day as the previous two or three, it wasn’t a day for the Bermudas and flip flops either.

Cattle numbers in the marts, as you would expect for the time of the year, are small. However, while numbers on offer remain small, I think it’s fair to say that on Tuesday in Kanturk there was something on offer to suit all tastes. Big, small, fancy or plain, the choice was yours, with the trade remaining firm overall.

Kanturk had a good selection of dry cows on offer with a good demand ringside from both factory agents and farmers in the business of putting flesh on dry cows.

The calf trade also remains strong with the majority of Freisian bulls starting at €100 and working upwards. Good strong Aberdeen Angus calves are still hitting the €400 mark.

And while many might believe that this buoyancy in the mart trade is in some part due to new beef markets opening in the US, I think it’s important to highlight that there is a deal of concern from beef farmers surrounding these markets also.

I spoke to one beef farmer in Kanturk on Tuesday who had the following to say.

“While I welcome the new market, I just have to question the present level of commitment for the producer. Where are the incentives today for the suckler farmer to continue in business and produce top quality beef? While it’s all very well promoting beef in the US, we must ensure that suckler farming back home in Ireland is a viable enterprise. Otherwise there will be nothing to market.

“There’s a huge focus at the moment on promotion, but scant thought is being given to the producer.”

Kanturk

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight

2 Lm steers 510kg 1000

1 Fr steer 635kg 1120

4 Hr heifers 231kg 600

1 AA heifer 470kg 960

1 Fr heifer 550kg 940

1 Sim cow 690kg 1060

1 Fr cow 770kg 1050

An icy start to the morning certainly kept a few farmers away from Macroom mart last Saturday, however in spite of such problems mart manager John O’Mahony reported a positive day of cattle trading. “We had a handy size sale of cattle here on Saturday, with excellent prices once again for all types of stock across the board.

Macroom

Saturday

No Breed Sex Weight €

5 AA steers 690kg 1400

1 Hr steer 545kg 1105

1 Fr steer 588kg 950

3 Ch heifers 365kg 895

1 Shx heifer 420k g 930

1 Ch cow 810kg 1660

1 Ch cow 700kg 1350

Calf numbers in Bandon are on the increase. Bandon mart had 300 on offer on Monday, with the trade for calves continuing strong.

In Bandon Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks ranged in price from €320 to €600 with the kilo.

Friesian Bullocks sold from €250 to €500 with the kilo.

There was a good trade for dry cows in Bandon on Monday and they made from €50 to

€600 with the kilo.

Heifers on Monday sold from €300 to €655 over the kilo.

Bandon

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight

5 AA steers 382kg 790

1 Hr steer 635kg 1200

2 Fr steers 590kg 1080

1 AA heifer 545kg 1200

1 AA heifer 445kg 1000

1 Fr cow 795kg 1250

1 AA cow 800kg 1300

‘Frosty weather, but red hot sale,’ was the lively heading on the mart report I received from the gang in Kilmallock after Mondays cattle sale.

Kilmallock had 614 cattle (including 148 calves) on offer on Monday. Bullocks here sold for up to €2.33/kg. Heifers hit €2.82/kg. Weanling bulls went to a high of €2.78/kg with dry cows selling for up to €1.87/kg.

And looking at dairy stock, a four-year-old calved Friesian cow sold for €1,230 while a two-year-old incalf heifer, time up in a week to Aberdeen Angus, made €1,220.

Meanwhile, in suckling, a six-year-old in-calf Limousin time up to Charolais made €1,440, while a nine-year-old Charolais and her Limousin bull calf sold for €1,340.

Kilmallock

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight

4 Fr steers 204kg 395

3 Ch steers 470kg 1005

2 BB steers 628kg 1280

2 Hr steers 578kg 1200

1 Hr heifer 490kg 980

1 AA heifer 475 kg 975

1 Sh cow 455kg 770

Cattle are certainly eager for silage at the moment, even the cheap fellows of the jersey persuasion that I purchased last year.

If the beast has a mouth at all, the silage is going down the chute.

There must be something about the crisp hardy days that does wonders for the bullocks appetite.

Fortunately for me, owing to the fact that I had a good supply of grass, I didn’t have to open a bale until relatively recently. So really my winter is only just beginning.

And fellows were saying that I should be feeding away my silage as there will be no market for it.

Well let’s just see. While indeed right now there is little or no market for silage, when you see some farmers tossing out slurry onto fields of snow like they were doing last week, you realise that it could be some time before the grass starts growing.

March of last year was a truly mighty month for selling silage.

So if you have fodder to sell, don’t be throwing in the towel just yet. Keep the chin up. The weather could get right lousy yet. There are a few rounds still to go.

And speaking of usual happenings, on Monday evening after the sale of cattle in Dungarvan, mart manager Ger Flynn reported that Friesian bull calves are “starting to move early.”

Which seems rather strange to me as I thought most dairy farmers were up to their eye balls in over quota milk. So my advice to dairy farmer here is; for God’s sake hold onto the poor old Friesian bull calf until he has some semblance of a swagger about him. Nobody wants to purchase a calf the size of a cat. Not even me.

And elsewhere in the mart Ger reported an excellent trade all round.

Dungarvan

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight

6 Fr steers 575kg 1020

5 AA steers 492kg 1040

3 Fr steers 520kg 965

1 Lm heifer 360kg 730

3 AA heifers 386kg 670

4 AA heifers 355kg 690

1 Fr cow 735kg 1015

And finally, we look across to Corrin mart in Cork where after Tuesday’s cattle sale, an excellent trade for bullocks was reported by mart manager, Sean Leahy. “The prices were up on last weeks for bullocks,” Sean said.

Store bullocks in Corrin sold from €240 to €475 over the kilo, with forward and beef bullocks making up to €700 over the kilo.

And looking at heifers, Sean added, “we had another very strong trade for heifers, a much improved trade for all heifers”.

Butcher type heifers made from €430 to €650 over the kilo. Dry cows in Corrin sold from €950 to €1,280 a head.

Corrin

Tuesday

5 AA steers 510kg 1200

2 Fr steers 736kg 1360

1 Lm steer 556kg 1240

6 Hr steers 264kg 670

1 Ch heifer 496kg 1150

5 Hr heifers 330kg 690

1 AA cow 750kg 1280


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