Strong exporter demand boosts calf price by €20 per head
Calf prices have increased by €20/hd over the last week, on the back of stronger exporter buying.
A fall-off in the number of Friesian bulls sold through the marts, and an increased availability of beef crosses, has also helped the trade.
Shippers continue to dominate sales, with the bulk of the calves sold through the marts going for export.
The base price for shipping-type Friesian bulls was up €20/hd last week, with the majority making between €40 and €80/hd.
Sean Leahy of Corrin Mart in Fermoy said the majority of Friesians for the Dutch market sold for €50-80/hd last week, with shippers keen for stock.
Calves for the Spanish trade made €80-120/hd, with farmers paying €120 to €200/hd for stronger types.
It was a similar story in Listowel where €50-70/hd bought the majority of shipping-type calves. Good demand for Angus and Hereford bulls has resulted in strong calves making up to €300/hd in Fermoy, with lighter types selling back to €100/hd. Angus bulls in Listowel ranged in price from €120 to €200/hd.
Angus and Hereford heifers generally made €130-170/hd in Fermoy. However, as low as €50/hd was paid for light calves, while quality lots made up to €230/hd.
Coloured calves are “as scarce as hens’ teeth,” according to George Candler of Kilkenny Mart. He said continental bulls were generally making from €250 to €300/hd.
Mr Leahy said Belgian Blue bulls out of the dairy herd ranged from €180/hd to €350/hd, while heifers made €150-260/hd.
The backlog of calves that had built up on farms and in shippers’ yards has now been cleared with a marked increase in shipper activity.
A combination of restricted lairage capacity in Cherbourg and overlapping ferry schedules has severely disrupted the calf export trade this spring.
ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham called on the dairy industry to fund the extra capacity required in lairage in Cherbourg to ease the live exports issues.
“The reason why is that the entire reputation of the dairy sector is potentially under risk if we can’t get viable outlets for as many calves as possible,” said Mr Graham.
He said the need to maximise milk solids production from grazed grass at the lowest possible cost was driving the glut of calves from early February to early April.
“For a tiny investment, the dairy industry could easily fund extra capacity in Cherbourg,” he said, adding it made sense for both the dairy and beef sectors as part of the downward pressure on beef prices is linked to the expanding dairy herds.