Mart trade: Poor weather has dampened farmers’ appetite for ‘grass’ cattle

Farmers, feedlot buyers and exporters have made their presence felt at the ringside over recent days; forward store cattle are still particularly in demand.

The poor weather conditions and lack of grass growth have dampened some farmers’ appetite for store cattle. However, this is not the case across the board, as some farmers are aiming to source stock before the peak grass buying period kicks into gear.

Weanling bulls – in particular – have remained in demand, as exporters and farmers battle to secure these lots. In addition, finished cow prices have also remained steady and many of the quality continental types have achieved prices exceeding the €2/kg mark.

The calf trade has remained steady with more continental types coming on stream. However, there is a wide variation in calf prices and this depends on age and quality. Generally speaking, black and white calves suitable for export traded in the region of €50-125/head.

Meanwhile, the lighter, younger calves sold for €10-50/head. Calves with Jersey genetics achieved the lower of these prices. Meanwhile, Hereford and Angus calves sold for €80-370/head.

Looking at continental calves, these lots have achieved prices ranging from €130-440/head.

Carnew Mart

Approximately 530 cattle and 480 calves went under the hammer at Carnew Mart, Co. Wicklow, on Friday last (March 16).

David Quinn, the mart manager, said that the cattle trade was very strong with an improved demand for all classes of stock.

Beef and forward bullocks sold for €680-1,060 over, while continental store lots made €530-850 over and Friesian store steers sold for €150-630 along with their weight. Weanling bulls were reported to trade for €450-870 over.

In the heifer ring, butcher lots sold for €540-960 over, while store heifers made €350-780 along with their weight. Beef cows fetched €550-870 over, while store lots made €150-520 over.

Sample calf prices:
  • Continental bulls: €230-400/head;
  • Continental heifers: €130-310/head;
  • Export Friesian bulls: €60-125/head;
  • Hereford and Angus bulls: €130-270/head;
  • Hereford and Angus heifers: €80-260/head;
  • Strong Friesian bulls: €130-180/head;
  • Small Friesian bulls: €10-50/head.

Castlerea Mart

900 cattle were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday (March 15). According to the mart’s Brendan Egan, the demand for short-keep cattle increased.

He said: “Store bullocks and heifers were a very strong trade and top-quality weanlings in both the bull and heifer rings attracted some very fancy prices.”

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 365kg – €1,170 or €3.20/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 395kg – €1,120 or €2.83/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 510kg – €1,350 or €2.64/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 460kg – €1,360 or €2.95/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 540kg – €1,370 or €2.53/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus bullock: 475kg – €1,300 or €2.73/kg.

There was a large entry of suck calves on the day and these lots achieved a good clearance.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 260kg – €920 or €3.53/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 250kg – €825 or €3.30/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 250kg – €790 or €3.16/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 270kg – €870 or €3.22/kg.

Furthermore, cows with calves at foot made €1,160-2,060. The top price of €2,060 was achieved by a Charolais cow and her bull calf. In-calf cows sold for €900-1,630/head.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Charolais: 630kg – €1,245 or €1.97/kg;
  • Limousin: 770kg – €1,450 or €1.88/kg;
  • Limousin: 735kg – €1,330 or €1.80/kg;
  • Simmental: 630kg – €1,275 or €2.02/kg.

In the calf ring, dairy-cross calves traded for €90-250/head, while Hereford and Angus types sold for €150-370/head. Continental calves made €350-465/head on the day.

Ennis Mart

Numbers were similar to last week in the bullock and heifer rings at Ennis Mart on Thursday last. However, the bullock trade was reported to be very strong – particularly for lots weighing >550kg.

Danny Moran said: “There was a good demand for heavy strong heifers, with prices improving by €20/head.”

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 475kg – €1,377 or €2.90/kg;
  • Limousin: 575kg – €1,615 or €2.78/kg;
  • Hereford: 600kg – €1,390 or €2.35/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 785kg – €1,740 or €2.21/kg.

A number of aged bulls passed through the ring on Thursday. A top price of €1,610 was achieved by a Charolais bull weighing 945kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 320kg – €910 or €2.84/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 495kg – €1,100 or €2.22/kg;
  • Charolais: 615kg – €1,600 or €2.60/kg;
  • Hereford: 467kg – €1,175 or €2.51/kg.

Forward cull cows were reported to have met a steady demand, while feeder lots met an easier trade.

Sample cull cow prices:
  • Limousin: 520kg – €850 or €2.40/kg;
  • Charolais: 610kg – €1,330 or €2.18/kg;
  • Charolais: 605kg – €1,400 or €2.31/kg;
  • Friesian: 550kg – €1,020 or €1.85/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.

A lively trade – from start to finish – for all types of cattle was reported. Bulls sold to a top price of €1,005 over; bullocks made a top price of €950 along with their weight. In the heifer ring, these lots were reported to make up to €1,020 over.

Top-class bulls (weighing over 600kg) sold at €600-1,005 over, the mart manager stated. Beef bullocks made €760-955 over and lighter store steers sold for €2.20-2.80/kg.

Beef heifers made €500-1,020 over and store heifers traded at €350-815 over or €2.20-3.09/kg. Fat, well-fleshed dry cows sold for €600-1,390/head.

Raphoe Mart also held a weanling sale on Tuesday evening last (March 13). A “good” entry of weanlings were presented for sale and quality was the main driver of price, according to Harkin.

On the day, bulls traded for €2.20-3.00/kg; heifers achieved similar prices and sold for €2.30-3.00/kg.

Kilrush Mart

There was a large number of cattle presented for sale at Kilrush Mart on Wednesday last (March 14). The largest increase was witnessed in the calf ring.

Martin McNamara, the mart’s manager, noted that the price difference between light, young calves and stronger, well-fed calves is huge.

For example, he said: “Quality Friesian calves made €120-220/head, while real poor Friesian types made €20/head.”

In addition, quality Hereford bull calves sold to a top price of €325/head; Limousin bulls traded for up to €350/head.

Sample steer prices:
  • Limousin: 280kg – €860 or €3.07/kg;
  • Charolais: 360kg – €1,055 or €2.93/kg;
  • Limousin: 310kg – €890 or €2.87/kg;
  • Friesian: 455kg – €985 or €2.16/kg.

McNamara also noted that there was a lively trade for both bulls and bullocks, while the heifer trade was similar to weeks gone by.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 275kg – €860 or €3.12/kg;
  • Hereford: 505kg – €995 or €1.97/kg;
  • Charolais: 315kg – €880 or €2.79/kg;
  • Limousin: 325kg – €850 or €2.61/kg.

A very good cull cow trade was also reported.

Sample cull cow prices:
  • Friesian: 550kg – €975 or €1.77/kg;
  • Shorthorn: 500kg – €760 or €1.52/kg;
  • Limousin: 425kg – €845 or €1.98/kg;
  • Charolais: 675kg – €1,300 or €1.92/kg;
  • Hereford: 655kg – €1,100 or €1.67/kg.

Kilkenny Mart

A larger cattle sale, consisting of 1,150 animals, was witnessed in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill, on Thursday last, according to the mart’s auctioneer George Candler.

The trade for forward continental stores was well maintained, while there were some buyers in the market for lighter continental stock.

However, lighter store cattle were reported to be difficult to sell at times. This is mainly due to lack of grass and wet field conditions. Candler noted that these buyers “have shown great bravery by purchasing these stores”.

On the day, the heavier heifer lots made €2.00-2.60/kg, €2.00-2.50/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.80-3.12/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 665kg – €1,710 or €2.57/kg;
  • Hereford: 570kg – €1,180 or €2.07/kg;
  • Charolais: 510kg – €1,280 or €2.51/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 500kg – €1,065 or €2.13/kg;
  • Limousin: 295kg – €920 or €3.12/kg;
  • Charolais: 390kg – €1,075 or €2.76/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority traded for €700-1,740/head.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 650kg – €1,550 or €2.38/kg;
  • Hereford: 620kg – €1,150 or €1.85/kg;
  • Limousin: 520kg – €1,410 or €2.71/kg;
  • Charolais: 595kg – €1,440 or €2.42/kg;
  • Simmental: 495kg – €1,260 or €2.55/kg;
  • Limousin: 460kg – €1,330 or €2.89/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 360kg – €930 or €2.58/kg;
  • Friesian: 300kg – €590 or €1.97/kg.

In the cow ring, Friesian cull cows traded for €0.95-1.82/kg, while continental types sold for €1.30-2.30/kg.

Furthermore, Candler outlined that the inclement weather has left buyers reluctant to purchase stock. However, he said: “Prices for lighter stores should improve if and when grass growth takes off.”