Calf trade: What are calves making at the marts?

Looking at the latest statistics from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) – so far this year – some 31,674 calves were registered to dairy dams up to the week ending January 25.

In addition, some 24,925 beef calves have been registered to suckler cows up to and including this date, according to the ICBF.

At mart level, numbers are still on the low side in the grand scheme of things and market prices are hard to gauge so far. Mart managers are expecting larger quantities from mid-February on.

Fermoy Mart

Speaking to AgriLand, Sean Leahy – Fermoy Mart manager – outlined that the sales are still small; however, he highlighted that the trade has been good thus far.

“Sales have been small, but not a bad trade. Most of the Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bulls are selling for €200 plus – even for younger types.

“Angus and Hereford heifers are making €130-140/head, while strong Friesian bulls are selling in the region €120-130/head.”

Overall, Friesian bull calves are trading at €50-130/head and Sean noted that shippers were in the market for that heavier calf with “a good bit of feeding”.

He also noted that farmers were willing to pay over €100/head for Friesian bull calves.

“The true reflection of the trade will be in three weeks time – it’s hard to fully gauge it yet. We had 70 calves on Tuesday. In a months time that will rise by 700-800 calves; it will go up tenfold.

“And, I think there are plenty of customers out there for that better calf – once they have that bit of feeding in them.”

In addition, a number of Belgian Blue heifer calves were on offer; these young heifers made in the region of €250/head.

Bandon Mart

Some 300 calves were presented for sale on Monday last at Bandon Mary – an increase on 50 calves on the previous sale.

The mart’s manager Tom McCarthy said that the trade was good and exporters forked out prices of €50-80/head for Friesian bull calves, while the stronger lots made €80-140/head.

Hereford and Angus bulls went under the hammer for €160-250/head. However, better-quality – six-to-eight weeks old – whiteheads and Angus calves sold for €300/head.

Early-maturing heifers came to €130-220/head and up to €250/head for strong lots.

“We hard increased activity around the ring this week which led to slight improvement in price. We had some farmers buying, but the majority of the Friesians were purchased by shippers.”

Tullow Mart

Speaking to AgriLand, Tullow Mart manager – Eric Driver – noted that calf sales are just getting up and running.

He said: “We’re not seeing any great numbers at the minute. But, the lighter Friesian bulls are selling for €80-100/head, but older calves with a bit of power in them are selling for €100-130/head.

“Some continental good-quality bulls are making €360-400/head, with Angus and Hereford heifers trading for €100-190/head; bulls will break the €200/head mark.”

In addition, black Limousin lots are selling at €250-260/head, he said.