Calf trade: Steady prices reported, with numbers set to jump next week

Over the past number of days, there has been mixed reports when it comes to the calf trade, as a result of poor weather conditions – affecting some marts – caused by Storm Ciara.

AgriLand got in touch with Tim McSweeney of Macroom Mart and Tom McCarthy from Bandon Mart in Co. Cork, to see how prices are faring.

Macroom Mart

Sales were greatly affected by Storm Ciara last week at Macroom Mart, Tim McSweeney told AgriLand.

The sale, which fell on Saturday, February 8, was right in the middle of the weather warnings that were in place last weekend. The sale went ahead nonetheless, but was said to see a “poor enough trade”.

Tim explained that because boats weren’t travelling, there wasn’t the same exporter presence ringside as had been seen previously.

Some 180 calves were up for sale; this was below the expected turnout.

Friesian bull calves suitable for export made €25-65/head, while farmers had an interest in the more forward Friesian bull calves, with some willing to pay up as far as €130/head to secure their desired lots.

There were just two continental calves on the sale, a bull and a heifer, each making €300/head.

Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bull calves made up to €200/head with the occasional more-forward calf making €250/head. Heifers of the same breed made less, with a top price of €150/head paid for stronger heifer calves.

Calves from 10 days old were on offer at Macroom Mart on Saturday, with farmers looking to move on early calves as quick as possible to free up housing space.

Tim highlighted that with exporters back in full flow next week – and the calving season progressing nicely – they are expecting approximately 400 calves on Saturday, February 15. This would be a big jump from just 180 calves the week prior.

Bandon Mart

Tom McCarthy, manager of Bandon Mart, told AgriLand: “Calf numbers are behind this year compared to last year.

“The feeling being that farmers are holding onto their calves that bit longer, with the hope of receiving a better price when their calves are that little bit older,” he added.

Tom noted that prices were similar to the previous calf sale; however, like Macroom Mart, Storm Ciara also took its toll on calves suitable for export – down approximately €20/head on the previous sale, ranging from €20-60/head depending on age and quality.

Additionally, Tom said that farmers forked out €90-150/head for Friesian bull calves on the day.

Strong Hereford and Aberdeen Angus calves were also making a good price, with a four-to-six week old bull calf reportedly making €250-300/head, while a heifer made €180-250/head.

There was very high demand for continental-cross calves. A “decent” Limousin, Simmental or Charolais dairy-cross was making €350/head as standard – with a good-quality bull making €400/head, he said.