Calf trade: How much are calves changing hands for in the marts?
Looking at the latest statistics from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) – so far this year – some 552,013 calves were registered to dairy dams up to the week ending March 1.
In addition, some 96,351 beef calves have been registered to suckler cows up to and including this date, according to the ICBF.
Some 780 calves went under the hammer at Fermoy Mart this week. Speaking to AgriLand, Sean Leahy – Fermoy Mart manager – outlined that the sales should start to level off around this mark, with more coloured calves coming on stream.
He noted that cross-bred calves are changing hands for small money – €5-10/head. He said: “Deutsch Friesian calves are selling at €20-50/head, while the better-quality Spanish Friesian calves are making €50-80/head at 2.5 weeks old.”
He also explained that farmers were willing to pay in the region of €80-130/head for the smaller Friesian and up to €150/head.
Moving to early-maturing breeds, Sean explained that light Angus and Hereford heifers are selling for under €100/head, while the stronger, better-quality Angus and Hereford heifers are selling for €150-220/head and are in demand.
Lighter Angus and whitehead bulls are moving in the region of €120/head and older, heavier bulls are making up to €150/head.
A total of 1,550 calves were on offer at Bandon Mart, Co. Cork on Monday last. The mart’s manager Tom McCarthy said: “Numbers are similar enough to where they were last year; they were a bit slow starting but it caught up very quick.
“The trade for the good calf is absolutely fine; there’s no problem at all with it. A nice Friesian bull calf – three weeks to six weeks old – would make from €50/head to €90/head, with farmers very active for the good Friesian for €80/head up to €120-130/head (six-weeks-old).
“The farmers have become a lot more active in the last couple of weeks because they have heard there is probably a little bit of value in Friesians and have stepped into the market and driven it on.
“There is a lot of young calves out there – 12-14 days old – and they are coming in at €20/head to €65/head for the better ones. An average price exporters have been paying in the last two weeks in Bandon Mart and Skibbereen Mart would have been between €35/head and €55/head.
“Straight Angus/Hereford bulls off a good Friesian cow – young ones at €150-220/head and four-to-six weeks old Angus/whitehead bulls at €220-300/head,” he explained.
“Straight Angus/Hereford heifers are selling at €150- 200/head; stronger ones at €200-280/head.
“We get a nice scatter of continental crosses as well – especially Belgian Blue. €280-350/head would buy 70% of them – exceptional lots could make more.
“We’d be hoping to do 2,000 plus/week for the next three weeks,” he concluded.
Speaking to AgriLand, Tullow Mart manager – Eric Driver – noted that the mart has had a “couple of good” calf sales since the season began.
He said: “We’re up at 150-200 calves at the minute. Last week was slower due to the boats getting cancelled on Saturday, but apart from that we are not going too bad.
“There are two different classes of calves on offer. The stronger Friesian bull calves are selling for €50-100/head and we have had a couple of flashy calves break the €100 mark. These calves would be punching up on three weeks old.
“The 10-14 day old bull Friesians are seeing €10-20/head and the Jersey-cross calves easier again.
“Aberdeen Angus and Hereford heifers are making €90/head up to €200/head depending on quality. Angus and Hereford bulls are selling for €120-130/head up to €280-300/head for a good, square Angus or whitehead bull.
“Good continental bulls have pushed onto €400/head in some cases,” he added.
Commenting on the number of lots on offer he said: “I’d imagine we haven’t peaked yet – maybe in the next two weeks.”