In recent days, mart managers across Ireland have noted an increase in activity around the sale rings. While entry numbers fall away, the increase in buying activity has generated higher prices.

There seems to be a new sense of confidence ringside, with mart managers noting the return of farmer buyers in the market for store animals.

Industry experts expect the price of beef to rise over the next couple of months, with Ireland vying to throw its hat into the Chinese ring and compete with big beef export players – which include Australia, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand and Uruguay.

This – coupled with a decrease in the backlog of cattle available for slaughter – has brought farmers back to the sale rings.

The increase in prices has been dominated by store cattle, but there has also been a welcome increase in price for the plainer, dairy-cross animals. Generally speaking, bullock, heifer and weanling prices have all moved in a positive direction.

Carnew Mart

Some 871 animals went under the hammer at Carnew Mart on Saturday last, November 23.

205 dry cows were reported to meet a brisk trade, while 40 suckler cows – with calves at foot – were said to sell for €1,100-1,580/unit.

In addition, 80 calves were reported to be in demand, with exporters in the market for Friesian bulls.

Beef and forward store bullocks made €550-890 along with their weight. Continental store bullocks made €460-680 over, while Friesian bullocks sold for €80-410 along with their weight; Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks were reported to sell for €330-540 over.

Looking at the heifer trade, beef lots made €530-850 over and continental store heifers fetched €380-640 over. Early-maturing Hereford and Angus heifers made €260-430 along with the weight.

In addition, beef cows fetched €260-610 over and store cows made €140 under the weight and €350 over.

Calf prices:
  • Friesian bulls: €40-135/head;
  • Continental bulls: €220-445/head;
  • Continental heifers: €140-370/head.

Headford Mart

Headford Mart held its weekly cattle sale on Saturday last, November 23. On the day, in-calf heifer prices were reported to be a “flying trade”, with the top price reaching €1,825.

Bullock prices ranged from €100 to €770 over or from €1.26/kg to €2.39/kg, according to the mart’s manager Joe Wynne. A Charolais bullock weighing 820kg achieved the top price of €1,590 or €1.94/kg, while a Limousin bullock made €2.39/kg or €1,170.

In the heifer ring, these lots made €220-620 along with the weight or €1.51-2.50/kg. A Limousin heifer achieved a top price of €1,120 (€2.24/kg); she weighed 500kg. Furthermore, €2.50/kg (€825) was paid for a Charolais heifer weighing 330kg.

Looking to weanling heifers, these animals sold for €230-545 over or €1.14-2.72/kg. A Limousin weanling heifer weighing 320kg sold for €865 or €2.70/kg.

Moving to weanling bulls, prices ranged from €250-560 along with the weight, or €1.63-2.80/kg. A Charolais bull – weighing 370kg – was bought for €930 or €2.51/kg. The top price on a €/kg basis went to a Charolais bull weighing 275kg; he sold for €770 (€2.80/kg).

Cull cows were reported to sell for €450-1,340/head, while suckler cow and calf pairings sold for €650-1,200/head.

Castlerea Mart

Castlerea Mart held its weekly sale on Thursday last, November 21, with prices reported to be gradually rising for all stock.

Brendan Egan, the mart manager, said: “The heifer ring reported a good clearance, with breeding heifers in strong demand, while – in the weanling rings – prices were strong again.

“There was increased farmer activity evident as the trading year enters the final month. Breeding stock, runners and the dry cows reported good clearances also,” he added.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 400kg – €985 or €2.46/kg;
  • Limousin: 550kg – €1,430 or €2.60/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 420kg – €875 or €2.08/kg;
  • Limousin: 560kg – €1,335 or €2.38/kg;
  • Simmental: 605kg – €1,355 or €2.23/kg.

Furthermore, cows with calves at foot made €970-1,620/unit, with springers selling from €550/head to €1,370/head. In addition, a number of dry cows also went under the hammer at the Roscommon-based venue.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Limousin: 780kg – €1,350 or €1.73/kg;
  • Charolais: 885kg – €1,535 or €1.73/kg;
  • Charolais: 860kg – €1,580 or €1.83/kg;
  • Limousin: 660kg – €970 or €1.46/kg.

Moving to the calf ring, calves were reported to make from €250/head to €300/head, while runners made €300-700/head.

220 bullock were on sale on Monday, November 18. The trade was reported to be better for quality stores.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Limousin: 495kg – €1,175 or €2.37/kg;
  • Charolais: 450kg – €1,095 or €2.43/kg;
  • Charolais: 590kg – €1,325 or €2.24/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 575kg – €1,270 or €2.20/kg.