Cattle marts: Farmers on the hunt for lighter ‘grass’ stock

Over the past number of weeks, mart managers have reported smaller sales taking place across the country. The smaller entries of cattle have, in some places, led to better clearances and higher prices.

Again, where quality animals have been presented for sale, these lots have achieved the best prices. Forward and short-stay cattle have proved popular, while plainer cattle prove to be a more difficult trade.

Weanlings are also in demand; quality lots have achieved prices in excess of €3/kg. Furthermore, in recent days, mart managers have reported an increased interest for lighter store lots. Farmers purchasing these animals will be aiming for a turnout to grass at the first opportunity.

Kilkenny Mart

A smaller cattle sale, consisting of 650 animals, was witnessed in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Thursday last (March 8), according to the mart’s auctioneer George Candler.

A “very sharp” trade was reported and continental animals were very much in demand. He said: “Many new and existing customers were anxious to secure numbers with demand outstripping supply.”

Quality heifers also met a good trade, as small numbers were on offer. The heavier lots made €2.05-2.65/kg, €2.00-2.80/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.90-3.06/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 585kg – €1,430 or €2.44/kg;
  • Hereford: 530kg – €1,100 or €2.08/kg;
  • Limousin: 490kg – €1,230 or €2.51/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 450kg – €1,050 or €2.33/kg;
  • Limousin: 385kg – €1,070 or €2.78/kg;
  • Charolais: 370kg – €930 or €2.51/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority sold at €900-1,680/head.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 720kg – €1,680 or €2.33/kg;
  • Friesian: 645kg – €1,130 or €1.75/kg;
  • Limousin: 565kg – €1,410 or €2.50/kg;
  • Charolais: 545kg – €1,340 or €2.46/kg;
  • Limousin: 475kg – €1,335 or €2.72/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 450kg – €1,030 or €2.29/kg;
  • Charolais: 385kg – €1,095 or €2.84/kg;
  • Limousin: 275kg – €920 or €3.35/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows traded for €1.07-2.03/kg, while continental types sold for €1.30-2.15/kg.

Carnew Mart

Some 650 cattle and 750 calves went under the hammer at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, on Saturday last (March 10).

David Quinn, the mart manager, said that the cattle trade was very strong and a full clearance was achieved on the day. There was a particular demand for beef and forward stores, he said.

Beef bullocks sold for €780-1,030 over, while continental store lots made €600-1,040 over and Friesian steers sold for €180-620 along with their weight. Heifers were reported to trade well; stores made €380-740 over.

Beef cows fetched €550-900 over, while store cows made €100-650 over; in-calf suckler cows traded for €850-1,600 over.

Sample calf prices:
  • Continental bulls: €180-460/head;
  • Continental heifers: €140-380/head;
  • Export Friesian bulls: €60-130/head;
  • Hereford and Angus bulls: €130-310/head;
  • Hereford and Angus heifers: €100-280/head;
  • Small Friesian bulls: €30-60/head.

Ennis Mart

Numbers were similar to last week in the bullock and heifer rings at Ennis Mart on Thursday last (March 8). However, a slight decline in the number of cull cows presented for sale was reported.

Danny Moran said: “The cow trade was very dear. Prices achieved by store and forward cows were up on other weeks.”

There was a very strong trade for bullocks – especially the quality lots on offer, he said.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 480kg – €1,300 or €2.70/kg;
  • Limousin: 420kg – €1,190 or €2.83/kg;
  • Limousin: 615kg – €1,645 or €2.63/kg;
  • Charolais: 545kg – €1,530 or €2.80/kg.

Heifers proved to be in demand – especially the lighter lots.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 270kg – €770 or €2.85/kg;
  • Limousin: 480kg – €1,250 or €2.60/kg;
  • Charolais: 485kg – €1,360 or €2.80/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 455kg – €1,210 or €2.65/kg.

A number of aged bulls passed through the ring on Thursday. A top price of €2,320 was achieved by a Limousin bull weighing 1,235kg.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Limousin: 660kg – €1,520 or €2.30/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 555kg – €1,370 or €2.46/kg;
  • Charolais: 675kg – €1,570 or €2.32/kg;
  • Friesian: 490kg – €870 or €1.77/kg.

Raphoe Mart

Last Thursday’s sale in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal, featured a “large” entry of cattle, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

An improved trade for all types of cattle on offer was reported. She said: “Quality cattle were sought after, but the plainer types were also selling for €2.00-2.30/kg.”

Top-class bulls (weighing over 600kg) sold at €600-845 over, the mart manager stated. Beef bullocks made €600-1,010 over and lighter store steers sold for €2.10-2.80/kg.

Beef heifers made €575-975 over and store heifers traded at €405-840 over or €2.20-2.80/kg. Fat, well-fleshed cows sold at €690-1,440/head.

Kilrush Mart

There was a large turnout at the Kilrush Mart on Wednesday, March 8. Dry cows – both Friesian and continental types – met a lively trade. Generally speaking, Friesian cows traded for €1.50-1.90/kg.

A Limousin cow, weighing 700kg, sold to a top price of €1,210. Bulls and bullocks also proved to be in demand. A top price of €920 was paid for a Charolais bull. He weighed 307kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Hereford: 188kg – €515 or €2.73/kg;
  • Charolais: 290kg – €830 or €2.86/kg;
  • Limousin: 280kg – €830 or €2.96/kg.
  • Aberdeen Angus: 290kg – €675 or €2.34/kg.

Generally speaking, heifers met a good trade. A Charolais heifer, weighing 355kg, made a top price of €1,040.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 245kg – €615 or €2.51/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 205kg – €690 or €3.36/kg;
  • Charolais: 402kg – €1,030 or €2.55/kg;
  • Friesian: 370kg – €610 or €1.64/kg.

Castlerea Mart

Some 850 cattle were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday (March 8). The trade was reported as lively – especially the forward store lots.

Heifers and bullocks proved to be very popular with these lots achieving the highest prices on the day. These animals improved by €40-50/head in some cases.

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 455kg – €1,250 or €2.74/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 425kg – €1,130 or €2.65/kg;
  • Belgian Blue heifer: 630kg – €1,600 or €2.53/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 475kg – €1,380 or €2.90/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 545kg – €1,400 or €2.56/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus bullock: 550kg – €1,040 or €1.89/kg.

A good clearance rate was achieved in the weanling rings, with prices similar to previous week’s.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 290kg – €940 or €3.24/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 330kg – €1,030 or €3.12/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 290kg – €1,000 or €3.44/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 390kg – €1,135 or €2.91/kg.

According to the mart’s Brendan Egan, cows with calves at foot made up to €1,600/head and in-calf cows traded for €800-1,620/head.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Charolais: 905kg – €1,890 or €2.03/kg;
  • Limousin: 745kg – €1,545 or €2.07/kg;
  • Limousin: 450kg – €885 or €1.96/kg;
  • Charolais: 890kg – €1,850 or €2.07/kg.

In the calf ring, dairy cross calves traded for €40-130/head, while Hereford and Angus types sold for €140-315/head. Continental calves made up to €445/head on the day.