Trade on the market circuit last week was dominated by increased numbers of beef and beef cattle, with a corresponding decline in lighter animals in many areas.
The temptation is to associate these factors with very dry conditions; however, the effects of the drought varied across the country.
It seems that the west has held up better because it was not affected by the previous dry spell in June/July.
The worst conditions over the past week have been in the east and south, with the Midlands, understandably, somewhere in the middle.
William Jones of Ballymahon Mart reported an increase in numbers, adding that grass supplies, although needing rain, “remained adequate”. James Cooney of Loughrea said he had fewer buyers from the East, due to the high heat limiting their grass.
Delvin’s Thomas Potterton attributed the slight reduction in numbers, particularly on the lighter side, to farmers who decided not to stress their livestock or themselves with the heat.
Carnew’s David Quinn reported mostly strong cattle on Saturday, the prices of which were unaffected by the dry conditions, but also noted a drop in the number of simpler and lighter animals, which was “perhaps one more”.
George Candler of Kilkenny agreed and also noted no change in the trade in beef and futures stocks. However, he said single steers and heifers were difficult to sell due to the lack of grass in this part of the world with customers for lighter stock also not as plentiful.
So how did the hot weather and limited weed supply impact prices?
In short, oxen weighing 400 to 600 kg fell by 9c/kg on average, or 36-54 €/hd. The driving force behind this drop was the lesser continental in the 400-499kg section which slipped 9c/kg at an average of €2.23/kg, while in the 500-599kg section the main driver was the best continental, which lost 17c/kg. kg at €2.92/kg at €1,460-1,749/hd.
However, the 500-599 kg beef is still 6 c/kg or 30-36 €/hd above what it was three weeks ago.
Beef over 600 kg fell by only 1c/kg in total to settle on an overall average of €2.55/kg (€1,530/hd), with the best €2.95/kg and the less animal €2.44/kg.
Compared to a fortnight ago, the best continental beef over 600kg is 11c/kg stronger, with its lower quality down to 16c/kg.
Higher quality heifers above 500kg made considerable gains as the 500-599kg continental increased by 8c/kg to €2.91/kg while those over 600kg and over increased from 10c/kg to €2.97/kg.
On Sunday evening, the skies opened up over most of the country. Provided we don’t get too wet in the next few days, William Jones’ prediction on fall trading could come true: “If we top next month, factory prices could stabilize and we could see a good back-end,” he said.
In the Know – around the markets
Trade was strong, with John Tevlin commenting that many of those buying clearly paid no attention to what the factories were paying.
“We had a lot of store cattle that earned €2.90-3.00/kg, with 550-570kg Continentals earning €3/kg,” he said. “First go to the grass, then to the shed. There seems to be confidence in the whole trade.
The fall in the number of heavy cows caused small wholesalers to turn to steers and heifers, or was this a case where, with 700kg slaughters bringing in up to €2,270 and then additional feed, that can you do anything else?
The top call among breeding heifers in the show and sale section saw a 570kg Simmental win €2,660.
A strong trade, with full customs clearance. Of the lighter steers, €2.71/kg was paid for 490kg Angus with 380kg Limousins sold at €2.86.
Top calls in the 500-600kg division saw 500-530kg Charolais do €2.80-2.90/kg, with 600kg Angus selling at €2.85/kg.
The first two on the heifer side were a 530 kg Belgian Blue X at €3.00/kg and a 540 kg Limousin X at €3.10.
On the beef side, a 600 kg Angus X heifer sold for €1,700, a 700 kg Charolais X heifer for €1,980.
Dry cows capped at €3.30/kg.
The increase in the number of heavy oxen on offer here last Saturday did not dampen demand, with prices as hot as the weather.
The samples included 660kg Angus at €2.27/kg and 650kg Limousin at €2.74/kg.
But it was heavy beef that was on fire, with an 815kg Charolais at €2.94/kg, followed by a 740kg Charolais at €3.01/kg and a 690kg Charolais at €3.06/kg.
The best cull cows topped out at €2.50/kg but older heifers were a bit easier, ranging from €2.05 to €2.88/kg. The best weaned from 360 to 390 kg is sold between 2.60 and 3.23 €/kg.
Thomas Potterton reported numbers slightly lower than the previous week as farmers decided not to stress their stock or themselves in the heat.
Beef under 500 kg sold for between €2.20 and €3.20/kg, with 500-600 kg costing an average of €2.44/kg.
The heaviest steers cost an average of €2.63/kg, with the first call seeing two 640kg Angus earn €2.88/kg.
The trade in heifers was a little easier with those of 300 to 400 kg at 2.23 €/kg on average and heavier batches at 2.45 €/kg on average; the top call was a 535 kg Charolais at €1,640 or €3.07/kg.
William Jones reported 130 offers with trade for forward and beef types continuing to improve: 850kg Charolais beef at €2,680/hd (€3.15/kg) and 940kg Limousin up at €2.94/kg.
The number of shops under 500 kg increased with 80 on offer, and the best 500 kg Charolais peaked at €3.32/kg while the 350-440 kg R+ to U- reached €1,000 in average with the €/kg.
The trade in lightweight heifers has improved, with the best of 330-370kg selling for a maximum of €1,100 with the weight.
Smaller numbers but prices were stable to improved, especially for the more fond animal.
The highest price of the day saw two 660kg Charolais oxen average €2,060/hd while heavy oxen sold for between €2.25 and €3.15/kg.
Advanced stores earned between €2.30 and €3.25/kg, with lighter beef selling between €2.20 and €3.25/kg.
Beef heifers earned €2.35-3.25/kg with store heifers €2.25-3.20/kg.
Among the weaners, bulls sold between 2.20 and 3.05 €/kg, heifers selling between 2.25 and 3.30 €/kg.
Dry cows sold from €190 to €2.65/kg.
As elsewhere, the number of advanced and heavy oxen increased, leading to an increase in the overall average price of oxen over 500kg to €2.78/kg, with higher calls from 3.17 to 3.18 €/kg recorded for continentals from 720 to 795 kg.
The 400-500kg section averaged €2.70/kg with lighter weights €2.57/kg.
Heifers under 400 kg held up at €2.67/kg, those between 400 and 500 kg at €2.77/kg on average, while your heifer over 500 kg earned on average €2.68 /kg.
The special weaned sale saw bulls from 200 to 350 kg on average €2.78/kg, those from 350 to 450 on average €2.77/kg while the heaviest bull earned €3.06/kg .