‘It’s great that we can do something for the farmers’ – Elphin’s Gerry Connellan

Today, Tuesday, March 31, it was announced that livestock marts in the Republic of Ireland could reopen their doors to facilitate farmers in the movement of stock – or in services deemed ‘essential’.

This development has been welcomed with open arms by both mart managers and industry stakeholders.

Essential services include the sale of calves – a service whereby a farmer can deliver calves to the mart, by appointment, so that orders for purchase can be matched and facilitated via the mart.

Also, for older cattle, marts can provide a weighing service for livestock, by appointment, with the mart facilitating the transaction between a buyer and a seller. All potential contact between people must be minimised.

However, marts that wish to avail of the new guidelines have been asked to submit a detailed written standard operating procedure (SOP) to the Superintending Veterinary Inspector (SVI) in their local Regional Veterinary Office.

AgriLand spoke to Elphin Mart manager, Gerry Connellan, about the Covid-19 impact on the trade, and how the mart has adapted to the ever-changing restrictions and protocols.

How will the mart operate now?

It’s great news that we are now able to do something for the farmers during this time. Obviously, the mart was closed, but from today we’re hoping to get back going.

We’ll still be dealing with relatively small numbers, but it’s a help to facilitate a few farmers. When we get back going, we will be under strict regulations. The seller will just drop off his/her cattle and we’ll weigh them and put them through.

Elphin Mart

The buyer will then have a look at them and hopefully we’ll make the sale. We are just getting all the paperwork for the department together now.

What way was the trade before the closure and how do you see it going?

In terms of prices, they are only middling at the moment. The way the beef price has gone, people won’t be able to pay out too much for cattle. However, this will all blow over – hopefully it won’t last too long.

But, beef prices can’t fall any further than €3.50/kg. The live cattle trade had been very good – very solid. Most of our show and sales are over and they were very successful; cattle were a good trade.

Cow prices have fallen in the last two weeks, but up to that the dry cows were the best trade of all categories; there were a lot of farmers to buy dry cows. At our last sale, dry cows averaged in or around the €1,000-1,020 mark.

Weanlings were also a good trade and we had good clearances. Farmers were maybe buying less, but prepared to give a good price for quality. Top prices for bulls at the last sale were up at €2.80-2.85/kg for lots weighing 300-400kg. 

However, plainer lots had come back in price. And the same can be said for store heifers and bullocks.

Stay tuned to AgriLand‘s mart status update for all the latest information on the reopening of the mart trade…