Cattle marts: Feedlot agents and farmers compete for cattle ringside

Mart managers have reported increased activity around the ring in recent days. Both farmers and agents have been busy sourcing stock.

Farmers – especially those in drier regions – have begun sourcing cattle for grazing. These farmers – albeit a small number at the moment – have had a positive impact on the market.

Buoyed by an increased demand for manufacturing beef, factory-fit cull cows have achieved high prices. Well-fleshed cows – in some cases – are achieving prices in excess of €2/kg. However, plainer cows are proving an easier trade.

As cattle are finished, farmers have been eager to replace finished animals with good-quality forward cattle. Stores falling into this category have achieved the best prices. Heifers – in some cases – have improved by €20/head.

Marts in heavily-populated dairy regions continue to witness vast amounts of dairy-origin cull cows coming on stream. However, mart managers have reported a steady demand for these Friesian animals.

In the weanling rings, quality remains the main driver of price, with high prices achieved by premium lots. Generally speaking, these lots are achieving prices from €2.40/kg upwards.

Dairy calf numbers are back in comparison to the corresponding period in 2017. However, these lots are expected to increase considerably from this week on.

Ennis Mart

Cull cow numbers were reported to have eased at Ennis Mart on Thursday last (February 8); some 200 cows went under the hammer. A very strong bullock trade was reported by the mart’s Danny Moran.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 475kg – €1,265 or €2.66/kg;
  • Limousin: 585kg – €1,635 or €2.79/kg;
  • Charolais: 645kg – €1,695 or €2.63/kg;
  • Hereford: 555kg – €1,120 or €2.02/kg.

“Heifers improved by €20/head. Forward cull cows met a steady trade. However, feeder types were a shade easier,” he said.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 395kg – €1,060 or €2.88/kg;
  • Charolais: 490kg – €1,270 or €2.59/kg;
  • Charolais: 590kg – €1,360 or €2.31/kg;
  • Hereford: 465kg – €885 or €1.90/kg.

He added: “A number of aged bulls were on offer and these lots made €1.20-1.72/kg.”

Sample cull cow prices:
  • Hereford: 740kg – €1,380 or €1.86/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 785kg – €1,570 or €2.00/kg;
  • Charolais: 910kg – €1,930 or €2.12/kg;
  • Friesian: 680kg – €1,340 or €1.97/kg.

Carnew Mart

Some 1,035 cattle and 150 calves went under the hammer in Carnew Mart, in Co. Wicklow, on Saturday – a number similar to the previous week’s sale.

David Quinn, the mart manager, said that all classes met a brisk demand and a full clearance was achieved. He also reported that there was an improved trade for beef and forward stores.

Beef and forward steers traded for €660-1,200 over. In addition, continental store bullocks made €550-870 over, while Friesian steers sold for €180-615 along with their weight.

Sample steer prices:
  • Belgian Blue: 620kg – €1,380 or €2.22/kg;
  • Limousin: 532kg – €1,380 or €2.59/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 510kg – €1,090 or €2.13/kg;
  • Friesian: 554kg – €1,020 or €1.84/kg.

Heifers were reported to trade well; stores made €330-780 over, while beef types sold for €580-860 over.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 574kg – €1,400 or €2.43/kg;
  • Limousin: 642kg – €1,390 or €2.16/kg;
  • Charolais: 361kg – €865 or €2.39/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 302kg – €660 or €2.18/kg.

Dry cows fetched €60-940 over, while in-calf cows made €1,000-1,540 over. Quinn said: “Cows with calves at foot traded for €1,250-1,540/head.”

In the calf ring, Friesian bulls traded for €65-225/head, while continental bulls made €270-440/head. In addition, Hereford and Angus bulls made between €180/head and €375/head. Hereford and Angus heifers sold for €130-310/head.

Raphoe Mart

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

Bidding was brisk and buyers were anxious to purchase stock. Extra buyers were present around the ring and they were busy sourcing cattle for grazing.

Top-class bulls (weighing over 600kg) sold at €600-1,000 over, the mart manager stated. Beef bullocks made €600-955 over and lighter store steers sold for €2.10-2.70/kg.

Beef heifers made €500-965 over and store heifers traded at €350-740 over or €2.20-2.80/kg. Fat, well-fleshed cows sold at €600-1,830/head.

Castlerea Mart

Despite the recent inclement weather experienced in Co. Roscommon, a lively trade was reported at Castlerea Mart on Thursday (January 18).

Weanlings, in particular, proved to be very popular and good-quality types achieved the highest prices.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 290kg – €945 or €3.25/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 265kg – €900 or €3.39/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 360kg – €1,085 or €3.01/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 280kg – €850 or €3.03/kg.

In the steer ring, bullocks were also reported to have sold well and a high clearance rate was achieved on the day.

Sample heifer and steer prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 420kg – €1,105 or €2.63/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 410kg – €1,025 or €2.50/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 500kg – €1,280 or €2.56/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 480kg – €1,255 or €2.61/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 465kg – €1,220 or €2.62/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 635kg – €1,570 or €2.47/kg.

According to the mart’s Brendan Egan, young calves traded for €75-355/head, while continental type calves made €320-690/head.

Cows with calves at foot traded for €1,150-1,270/head, while springer lots traded for €930-1,450/head.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Limousin: 780kg – €1,615 or €2.07/kg;
  • Limousin: 720kg – €1,435 or €1.99/kg;
  • Friesian: 680kg – €1,025 or €1.50/kg;
  • Friesian: 595kg – €820 or €1.37/kg.

Kilrush Mart

There was a smaller turnout at Kilrush Mart, on Wednesday, February 7. On the day, the quality was reported as reasonable. However, cattle on offer met a good demand.

Sample steer prices:
  • Hereford: 390kg – €770 or €1.97/kg;
  • Friesian: 532kg – €950 or €1.78/kg;
  • Limousin: 445kg – €1,100 or €2.47/kg.
  • Hereford: 475kg – €955 or €2.01/kg.

Martin McNamara, the mart’s manager, noted that a 98% clearance rate was achieved on the day.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 300kg – €860 or €2.86/kg;
  • Charolais: 285kg – €755 or €2.64/kg;
  • Charolais: 415kg – €955 or €2.30/kg;
  • Limousin: 425kg – €1,065 or €2.50/kg.

Balla Mart

Just over 700 cattle were on offer at Saturday’s (February 10) sale in Balla Mart. Despite the bad weather, the trade was reported as firm. Stores, in particular, proved to be popular among buyers.

Store bullocks (up to 400kg) sold for an average price of €2.54/kg; the heavier lots (400-500kg) traded at €2.35/kg. Murphy added that over 350 heifers were on offer and lots weighing 400kg averaged €2.60/kg. Furthermore, heifers weighing 400-500kg averaged €2.37/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 345kg – €1,115 or €3.35/kg;
  • Charolais: 455kg – €1,265 or €2.76/kg;
  • Charolais: 570kg – €1,550 or €2.72/kg;
  • Charolais: 680kg – €1,605 or €2.36/kg.

In addition, some 100 cows went under the hammer last week and Murphy said there was great demand for the quality lots.

The best of these, he said, was an April-2015 born Charolais cow. Accompanied by a bull calf, this pair sold for €1,630. On the day, dry cows averaged €1.76/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,500 or €3.03/kg;
  • Charolais: 640kg – €1,490 or €2.33/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 505kg – €1,390 or €2.75/kg;
  • Limousin: 710kg – €1,525 or €2.15/kg.

Kilkenny Mart

A smaller cattle sale, consisting of 620 animals, was witnessed in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill on Thursday last, according to the mart’s auctioneer, George Candler.

Continental heifers and bullocks were in short supply and in demand.

Heavier heifer lots made €2.00-2.53/kg, €2.00-2.50/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.80-2.60/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 770kg – €1,670 or €2.17/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 655kg – €1,660 or €2.53/kg;
  • Limousin: 530kg – €1,130 or €2.13/kg;
  • Charolais: 365kg – €845 or €2.32/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority sold at €1.60-2.65/kg. Beef bullocks (600kg) sold for €1.80-2.41/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Hereford: 510kg – €1,080 or €2.12/kg;
  • Simmental: 625kg – €1,490 or €2.38/kg;
  • Limousin: 485kg – €1,285 or €2.65/kg;
  • Hereford: 350kg – €760 or €2.17/kg.

On the day, Friesian cull cows traded for €1.10-1.75/kg, while continental lots made €1.40-2.15/kg. In addition, in-calf suckler cows traded for €950-1,300/head. Cows with calves at foot made €1,280-1,640/head.

Tullow Mart

Over 280 cattle went under the hammer at Tullow Mart on Friday (February 9). Prices were reported to be similar to those that were achieved in weeks gone by.

Beef and forward bullocks met a steady trade. Friesian and Hereford types sold in the region of €2/kg upwards. Good-quality bullocks sold for €1,020 over.

Lighter Hereford and Angus steers (<500kg) sold for €2.05-2.60/kg, while continental types ranged from €650 to €800 over.

Farmers continued to drive the heifer trade in the Carlow-based venue. Beef heifers continued to meet a very lively trade. Good-quality continental types sold for €2.40/kg. Heifers weighing over 500kg sold for €2.10-2.75/kg.

In addition, 80 calves also went under the hammer on the day. Generally speaking, Friesian lots traded for €65-220/head. Hereford and Angus breeds sold for €150-240/head. Continental breeds traded for €280-440/head.

Cull cows were also reported to have met a lively trade. Friesian lots sold for €100-300 along with their weight. Continental types sold from a base of €2.50/kg.