A Charolais heifer which was sold at Cavan mart.

Chink of light for beef sector

After a summer of volatile prices, the beef market has taken an upturn.

After a summer of volatile prices, the beef market has taken an upturn in recent weeks, according to the manager of Cavan Mart.

“Trade has steadied up a bit,” reports David Reilly. “It looks to be strengthening up. Things have improved in the English market which is having a positive knock-on affect for us.”

To illustrate, David noted Charolais heifers weighing 465kg made €1,370 (€2.94/kg); bullocks at 495kg made €1,430 (2.89/kg); while crossbred Herefords at 615kg made €1,600 (€2.60/kg).

“Prices had been declining in factories since the spring, but it appears to have bottomed out and in the last week we’ve seen improvement.”

David also attributes the change to the weather improving towards the end of August.

“Weather conditions had been putting a lot of people off from both buying and selling cattle, as they were unsure of what to do. Conditions can have a major impact on farmers, because people won’t sell if they think there will be no one there to buy cattle. As conditions improve it creates more hunger for cattle and we’ve even had inquiries, particularly for store cattle. We’re happy things are trending upwards.”

Despite the improvement, David is still concerned for sucklers going forward.

“There hasn’t been as much demand for sucklers due to people opting out of the industry. This will have a major impact on quality of cattle, particularly good quality Charolais and Limousin cattle will become a lot harder to get. We’re seeing a bit of it already. In spring of 2023, a lot of culled sucklers weren’t replaced.

“There will be more of a focus on dairy-to-beef systems. There’s a lot of caution about the future of farming as costs such as electricity, meal, fertiliser, and fuel have all gone up, but the cost of our produce seems to be coming down.”