The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) show that the number of cattle sold at Irish marts in the first four months of this year has increased considerably.
Separately, the number of cattle sold privately (or farm-to-farm) has fallen considerably, indicating a growing preference among farmers to sell their cattle at the mart.
The DAFM figures show growth in mart sales in all four months when compared to the same time period last year. Meanwhile, farm-to-farm sales grew in the first two months of 2022, but fell in the second two months of this year when compared to last year.
Mart throughput for the first four months of 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022:
Month Mart sales 2019 Mart sales 2020 Mart sales 2021 Mart sales 2022 2021/2022 difference January: 52,999 66,244 65,135 80,208 +15,073 February: 136,365 142,979 131,437 154,503 +23,066 March: 216,341 158,656 227,951 249,081 +21,130 April: 234,053 78,398 207,523 216,305 +8,782 Total: 639,758 446,277 632,046 700,097 +68,051
The above table includes only the cattle that were sold at marts and does not include cattle that went to a mart but were unsold.
As the table above indicates, the first four months of 2022 saw the highest number of cattle sold at marts going as far back as 2019.
2020 saw mart sales take a major hit as Covid-19 disrupted normal ringside trading, however the introduction of online bidding became an instant success and has made a positive, lasting impression on the trade at livestock marts.
Farm-to-farm cattle sales
The table below shows the changes in the number of cattle sold through farm-to-farm sales over the past four years.
Farm-to-farm sales for the first four months of 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022:
Month Farm-to-farm sales 2019 Farm-to-farm sales 2020 Farm-to-farm sales 2021 Farm-to-farm sales 2022 2021/2022 difference January: 71,273 74,811 82,957 87,060 +4,103 February: 120,148 135,274 139,310 142,128 +2,818 March: 224,573 248,899 281,043 249,782 -31,261 April: 210,105 290,654 247,015 200,043 -46,972 Total: 626,099 749,638 750,325 679,013 -71,310
Comparing the two tables above, we see that 2022 is the first time in the last four years that the number of cattle sold at marts surpassed the number of cattle sold through farm-to-farm sales (in the first four months of the above given years).
Many mart managers across the country are reporting increased cattle numbers at mart sales when compared to the same week last year.
Some mart managers have expressed concern that the rising numbers currently seen at marts will eat into the number of livestock available at marts later in the year. However, department figures would indicate that this is unlikely, as the figures indicate that the additional cattle appearing at marts were previously being sold privately.