Cattle marts: Increased grass growth generating more buyer activity

With the recent mild weather, grass growth has increased and this has led to more farmer activity at cattle marts across the country.

Farmers have sourced good-quality store cattle, while numerous mart managers have noted that plainer, early-maturing cattle have met a more difficult trade; poor-quality Friesian stock have also proved unpopular.

Weanlings remain a firm trade, with exporters sourcing good-quality bulls for the Turkish market.

Raphoe Mart

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

The trade was reported to be sharp despite the inclement weather conditions; farmers, factory agents and exporters all battled for stock at the ringside.

Friesian and Aberdeen Angus type cattle were reported to have improved in price, while good-quality stock achieved the top prices.

Top-class bulls weighing in excess of 600kg sold for €580-950 along with their weight, while beef bullocks traded at €690-890 over; store bullocks fetched a top call of €880 over.

Meanwhile, in the heifer ring, beef lots made €490-795 over and store heifers traded at €340-740 along with their weight. Furthermore, fat, well-fleshed cows sold at €750-1,595/head.

Carnaross Mart

The trade was reported to be brisk for all types of stock at Carnaross Mart on Monday last. Over 1,460 animals were on offer and an overall clearance rate of 92% was achieved.

Good-quality bullocks proved popular among farmers, while plainer types proved a more difficult trade.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 580kg – €1,500 or €2.58/kg;
  • Charolais: 660kg – €1,700 or €2.57/kg;
  • Limousin: 535kg – €1,420 or €2.65/kg;
  • Limousin: 565kg – €1,465 or €2.59/kg;
  • Charolais: 345kg – €1,050 or €3.04/kg;
  • Limousin: 290kg – €875 or €3.01/kg;
  • Charolais: 180kg – €900 or €5.00/kg.

Moving to heifers, the trade was reported to be steady. Again, good-quality lots achieved the highest prices, while plainer lots were more difficult to sell. Beef heifers presented for sale were few and far between.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 595kg – €1,510 or €2.53/kg;
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,285 or €2.59/kg;
  • Charolais: 610kg – €1,505 or €2.46/kg;
  • Charolais: 320kg – €825 or €2.57/kg;
  • Aubrac: 385kg – €1,015 or €2.63/kg;
  • Charolais: 290kg – €675 or €2.32/kg.

The dry cow trade was reported to be firm and a 100% clearance was achieved in this ring.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Charolais: 510kg – €1,060 or €2.07/kg;
  • Limousin: 680kg – €1,550 or €2.27/kg;
  • Limousin: 755kg – €1,700 or €2.25/kg;
  • Limousin: 765kg – €1,570 or €2.05/kg;
  • Charolais: 620kg – €1,285 or €2.07/kg.

Some 445 calves were also on offer and a 96% clearance rate was recorded. Friesian calves – suitable for export – traded at €70-170/head, while farmers were willing to pay €140-210/head to secure Friesian bulls.

Sample continental calf prices:
  • Belgian Blue bull: €400;
  • Charolais bull: €600;
  • Charolais heifer: €420;
  • Charolais bull: €400.

Balla Mart

Over 1,000 cattle were on offer at Saturday’s (May 5) sale at Balla Mart. There was a lot of store cattle presented for sale, according to the mart’s Anthony Murphy.

He said: “It’s amazing the way the demand is considering the weather.”

Heavy bullocks (>500kg) sold for an average price of €2.41/kg; the heavier store lots (400-500kg) traded at an average price of €2.35/kg, while bullocks weighing 300-400kg averaged €2.56/kg.

400 heifers went under the hammer at the Mayo-based venue. Heifers weighing up to 400kg averaged €2.54/kg; heifers weighing 400-500kg averaged €2.44/kg. In addition, beef heifers (>500kg) also sold for €2.44/kg on average.

In addition, over 180 cows went under the hammer on Saturday last. The best of these, he said, was a March-2015 born Limousin cow. Accompanied by her heifer calf, this pair sold for €2,330. Dry cows sold to a top call of €1,980.

A weanling sale also took place at Balla Mart on Monday last (May 7); a fine trade was reported. Looking at the bull sale, these animals (200-350kg) averaged €2.79/kg, while heavier lots (350-400kg) traded for €2.51/kg.

350 weanling heifers were also presented for sale; heifers weighing 200-350kg sold for €2.45/kg on average; lots weighing 350-450kg averaged €2.42/kg.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Limousin bull: 185kg – €550 or €2.97/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 340kg – €1,145 or €3.37/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 300kg – €1,100 or €3.67/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 185kg – €515 or €2.78/kg.

Tullow Mart

A very large sale took place at Tullow Mart on Friday last. According to the mart’s Eric Driver, the trade was steady with good-quality cattle achieving the highest prices.

Friesian beef bullocks sold for €700-1,120 over; 700kg Charolais bullocks made €1,820, Driver noted. Friesian stores and forward bullocks traded from €1.75/kg and lighter types sold from a base of €1.70/kg.

Forward store continental steers sold from a base of €2.30/kg, while €850-950 over was paid for Charolais and Limousin lots; 350-420kg continental steers sold at €1,000-1,250/head. In addition, early-maturing lots traded at €1.95-2.20/kg depending on quality.

In the heifer ring, continental beef and forward types traded for €850-1,000 over. Traditional breeds sold from a base of €600 over. Plainer Hereford and Angus store lots were reported to sell at €1.95-2.20/kg. Continental store lots made a top price of €2.95/kg, while the majority of these lots sold between €2.40-2.75/kg.

In the dry cow ring, Friesian lots traded from €100 over and continental cows sold for €400-800 over. Beef lots sold to a top call of €1,000 over.

A large number of calves were also presented for sale on Friday last. Friesian bulls – suitable for export – sold for €80-120/head. Angus and Hereford heifer calves traded for €120-250/head. Hereford and Angus bulls made a top price of €320/head, while continental types sold for €260-420/head.

Macroom Mart

Macroom Mart’s sale took place on Saturday last (May 5). Dry cows traded at €40-1,110 along with the weight and a Limousin cow – weighing 640kg – made the top price on the day; she sold for €1,750.

Moving to the bullock trade, early-maturing lots sold for €275-695 over, while continental types made €330-725 over. Four Belgian Blue steers – weighing 590kg on average – made €1,315/head.

In the heifer ring, heifers traded for €245-625 along with the weight. A Charolais heifer, weighing 525kg, sold for €1,150, while two Charolais heifers traded for €1,080/head. They weighed 455kg.

In the calf ring, Friesian bulls – suitable for export – sold for €60-135/head, while farmers were willing to pay up to €205/head to secure lots. Hereford and Angus bulls made €170-300/head, while their female counterparts traded for €130-270/head.

Furthermore, continental bull and heifer calves sold for up to €490/head and €400/head respectively.

Kilkenny Mart

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

“Numbers are still remaining big, but light traditional breeds and some Friesian types are proving difficult to sell,” he explained.

He continued: “Some of these types are €100/head behind similar animals sold six weeks ago; if farmers have some grass and dry land these small stores appear to be good value.

“Shortage of grass plus wet conditions are stopping many buyers from operating,” he added.

Quality heifers met a good trade, with lighter lots peaking at €2.90/kg. In general, the heavier lots made €2.00-2.70/kg, €2.00-2.63/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.85-2.90/kg or €650-1,040/head.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 615kg – €1,365 or €2.22/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 445kg – €1,000 or €2.25/kg;
  • Limousin: 290kg – €815 or €2.81/kg;
  • Charolais: 390kg – €1,040 or €2.67/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority traded at €1.70-2.50/kg. Bullocks (400-500kg) traded for €650-1,340/head or €1.50-3.02/kg; lighter steers sold for €550-1,070/head or €1.40-3.12/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Hereford: 745kg – €1,475 or €1.98/kg;
  • Limousin: 570kg – €1,390 or €2.44/kg;
  • Charolais: 430kg – €1,300 or €3.02/kg;
  • Friesian: 336kg – €730 or €2.17/kg.

In addition, Friesian cull cows fetched prices of €1.00-1.90/kg, while continental lots made €1.25-2.40/kg.