We are now into September and the good spell of weather, with little rain over the past week, has meant buyers remain in good form, which is reflective of the prices.
Coupled with factories back eager for cattle, this means fed and short-keep lots saw a bump on the week.
Bullocks of 600kg-plus rose by 3c/kg on the week to rest at €2.25/kg. Better-quality lots in this weight category rose by 4c/kg, resulting in average price for the top third of lots sold hitting €2.46/kg.
Prices for heifers of the same weight are holding 4c/kg ahead of the bullocks for both average- and better-quality lots. This is in line with the 5c/kg deferential in the prices factories are paying.
Looking at steers, we can see a 6c/kg lift in average for bullocks weighing between 500kg and 600kg
With procurement managers back on the phones over the last few days trying to line up finished cattle, that has also given a lift to short-keep cattle, with buyers confident of prices holding.
Looking at steers, we can see a 6c/kg lift in average for bullocks weighing between 500kg and 600kg. This resulted in the average price settling at €2.27/kg, with the top third of lots jumping to €2.54/kg.
Lesser-quality bullocks in this weight division saw an increase of 8c/kg on the week to hit just shy of €2/kg.
Heifers in that short-keep bracket also saw a substantial jump of 5c/kg. This means that prices paid for short-keep heifers is very similar to what’s on offer for bullocks.
The biggest difference between the two is that the lesser-quality heifer still demands a premium over the bottom-quality bullocks, with heifer average at €2.07/kg.
This trend is the same as you move down the weights. Bullocks sub-500kg that fall into the bottom third of lots sold are generally a massive 17c/kg behind their heifer comrades of the same weight and quality.
Bullocks between 400kg and 500kg rose by a further 2c/kg this week
Surprisingly, this isn’t affecting overall average too much, with only a 1c/kg deferential between the two for animals weighing between 400kg and 500kg and a 3c/kg differential in favour of the bullocks for lots sub-400kg.
The main reason for this is that prices for the top end of lighter steers have really driven on in the past few weeks in comparison with heifers.
Bullocks between 400kg and 500kg rose by a further 2c/kg this week, with heifers of the same weight dropping by 4c/kg. This resulted in a price difference of 13c/kg on the two.
Good-quality heifers sub-400kg and needing a full summer grazing next year dropped by 6c/kg on the week. An 18c/kg price difference is now seen between the bullocks and heifers for this weight and type.
As we head into September, we also edge closer the peak weeks for autumn bull sales. This surge in numbers is generally having a negative effect on prices.
That said, it’s not all numbers that’s driving this. The early strong trade brought a lot of the better-quality lots out earlier than usual.
This is particularly relevant for autumn 2020-born weanlings, with early spring weanlings now only starting to really come on show.
When the better-quality spring weanlings really hit the sales ring, prices should rise again accordingly.