Poor grass growth seems to be having a slight impact on young stock sales this week, as we see some slight slippages in prices in the past seven days.

Mart managers had been reporting larger numbers than normal over the past number of weeks, with farmers and exporters battling hard for weanling and store cattle.

Annual purchasers of stock to cover their stocking rate for ANC had also been bolstering the trade, but with these farmers now having secured numbers, a slight deflation in demand has been witnessed.

However, factory agents are still continuing to purchase in the live ring to attain numbers, with farmers happy to bring cattle to marts as opposed to dropping them into the factory’s hands.

Cull cows

Cows seem to be the real jewel in the mart crown this week, with insatiable demand for well-fleshed, continental types seen across the country, but particularly in suckler strongholds along the west coast where there are good numbers of these cattle passing through.

Top-quality cows are achieving prices akin to those of finished bullocks and heifers on occasion.

Summer brings with it barbecue season, with demand for mince for burgers meaning a demand for cull cows. Sporting events on the continent, such as Euro 2024, will also see a spike in burger sales, which has sent factories scrambling for cows to fill orders.

The bottom third of cows have been trading at €2.12/kg this week, according to Martbids database, with Friesian cows selling in the main between €1.50/kg and €1.90/kg, though well-fleshed cows that have been dry for some time are selling for €2/kg to €2.20/kg, similar to poorer-quality suckler types.

The top third of cows remains unchanged from last week at €2.60/kg.

With €4.80/kg to €5/kg on the table from factories for these cows, it’s important to do the sums before letting the hammer fall.

An 800kg well-fleshed cow at €2.60/kg will sell on average for €2,080, less commission.

If we are to assume that cow has a kill-out potential of 54%, we would expect a 432kg carcase. At €4.80/kg, that cow has the potential to kill in to €2,073. At €5/kg, this jumps to €2,160. Kill-out potential will obviously vary depending on fleshing and conformation.

Bullocks and heifers

Both bullocks and heifers have fallen in price across most categories. Bullocks in the 500kg to 600kg category recorded an increase in price of between 3c and 5c/kg, while those in the 400kg to 500kg category saw prices slip by 15c/kg for the top third, with a lower slip of 5c/kg in the bottom third of cattle.

Heifers have been hit heavier than bullocks on price, with the 600kg-plus category surprisingly seeing the greatest fall off in prices in the week.

Top-quality finished heifers over 600kg averaged €3.11/kg, down 6c on last week, while the bottom third of heifers tumbled by 18c/kg.

It is worth noting that with lower numbers of cattle passing through the ring at this time of the year that outliers can affect averages drastically.