Cattle marts: Demand remains strongest for quality bulls

As has been the case over the past number of weeks now, quality is the order of the day when it comes to achieving the top prices in cattle marts throughout the country.

Weanling bulls – especially the better quality lots – continue to remain in demand, as specialised bull finishers and exporters sourcing stock for Italy battle it out for such animals.

Buyers have also started to emerge for the better-quality Limousin, Charolais and Belgian Blue heifers, with Italy the final destination for many of these.

However, as has been the case for some time now, plain cattle – especially those exhibiting more of the dairy phenotype – are a tough trade; many of these are struggling to break the €1.80/kg barrier.

Tullow Mart

Last Saturday marked Tullow Mart’s annual male weanling show and sale and both exporters and farmers were very active around the ring.

Commenting on the trade, Eric Driver said that it “instilled confidence in the suckler calf weanling trade for the back of the year, with prices resembling something similar to last year’s trade”.

E and U-grade calves – suitable for shipping – sold for €2.90-3.60/kg. The prize winner – a 480kg Belgian Blue bull – sold for €1,595, while the prize winning pair sold for €1,270/head or €2.79/kg.

Good-quality Limousin and Charolais bulls – weighing over 400kg – sold at €900-1,240; a lot of these weanlings sold for €950-1,100.

Driver noted that lighter weanlings also sold to a good, steady base, with some of the plainer black types selling from €2.00/kg and the well-bred Limousin and Charolais lots pushed to the €3.00/kg mark.

The Carlow-based venue will host its female weanling show and sale next Saturday (September 22); entries for this sale close on Thursday (September 20).

Balla Mart

Moving west to Balla Mart, Saturday’s sale was described as “one of the best yards of cattle ever seen in Balla”, as over 1,050 head were on offer. Buyers were said to have congregated from all over Ireland, which helped drive the bullock and heifer trade.

On the day, 300-400kg bullocks sold to an average of €2.21/kg; good store bullocks weighing 400-500kg made an average of €2.32/kg and the heavier lots (+500kg) averaged €2.22/kg.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Limousin: 280kg – €700 or €2.48/kg;
  • Limousin: 480kg – €1,350 or €2.81/kg;
  • Charolais: 680kg – €1,620 or €2.38/kg;
  • Charolais: 720kg – €1,740 or €2.42/kg;
  • Angus: 840kg – €1,760 or €2.10/kg.

Over 300 heifers were also offered at the Mayo-based venue. Heifers weighing up to 400kg sold to an average of €2.13/kg; those falling into the 400-500kg category sold to an average of €2.16/kg, while +500kg heifers averaged €2.20/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 275kg – €550 or €2.00/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 390kg – €1,280 or €3.28/kg;
  • Charolais: 460kg – €1,200 or €2.61/kg;
  • Angus: 590kg – €1,350 or €2.29/kg;
  • Limousin: 660kg – €1,510 or €2.29/kg.

Ennis Mart

Some 940 cattle passed through the ring of Ennis Mart on Thursday last (September 13). The trade was said to have held very strong for quality stores, while plainer cattle and those going overage remained challenging.

Sample bullock and heifer prices:
  • Five Charolais bullocks: 490kg – €1,360 or €2.57/kg;
  • One Charolais bullock: 690kg – €1,615 or €2.34/kg;
  • One Hereford bullock: 760kg – €1,220 or €1.61/kg;
  • Six Charolais bullocks: 590kg – €1,445 or €2.44/kg;
  • One Limousin heifer: 495kg – €1,160 or €2.34/kg;
  • Two Charolais heifers: 447kg – €1,100 or €2.46/kg;
  • Three Charolais heifers: 428kg – €1,020 or €2.38/kg;
  • One Hereford heifer: 510kg – €1,000 or €1.96/kg.

Cull cow numbers in the Clare-based venue were also up on Thursday, with quite a number of feeder types available. However, beef cows were scarce on the day, but a good deal of forward cows were on offer.

Sample cow prices:
  • One Friesian: 720kg – €1,230 or €1.71/kg;
  • One Limousin: 660kg – €1,180 or €1.78/kg;
  • One Hereford: 750kg – €1,330 or €1.77/kg;
  • One Angus: 585kg – €990 or €1.69/kg;
  • One Limousin: 720kg – €1,530 or €2.12/kg;
  • One Friesian: 470kg – €620 or €1.32/kg.

Castlerea Mart

Meanwhile in Castlerea Mart, 700 cattle passed through the ring on Thursday last and the trade remained unchanged from the previous week. Depending on quality, forward store cattle remained a good trade.

Sample bullock and heifer prices:
  • Charolais bullock: 435kg – €1,145 or €2.63/kg;
  • Limousin bullock: 430kg – €1,100 or €2.56/kg;
  • Charolais bullock: 525kg – €1,275 or €2.43/kg;
  • Angus bullock: 510kg – €1,110 or €2.18/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 390kg – €960 or €2.46/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 470kg – €1,270 or €2.70/kg;
  • Charolais heifer: 610kg – €1,445 or €2.37/kg;
  • Angus heifer: 490kg – €1,100 or €2.24/kg.

In addition, the dry cow trade continued to remain firm in the Roscommon-based venue, with the best of the well-fleshed lots selling at €1,345-1,685.

Meanwhile, moving on to the weanling trade, increased demand was noted for quality lots, but the plainer, light lots proved more difficult to sell.

Sample weanling bull and heifer prices:
  • Angus bull: 195kg – €500 or €2.56/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 295kg – €890 or €3.02/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 340kg – €1,040 or €3.06/kg;
  • Simmental bull: 455kg – €1,080 or €2.37/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 240kg – €670 or €2.79/kg;
  • Simmental heifer: 325kg – €865 or €2.66/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 340kg – €800 or €2.35/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 280kg – €695 or €2.48/kg.