There were approximately 300 cattle on offer at the weekly sale of dry cows, heifers and bullocks on Tuesday (August 2) at Mayo Sligo Co-Op Livestock Mart in Ballina, Co. Mayo.

Speaking to Agriland after the sale, mart manager Billy Loftus said: “Numbers are back, in line with the general trend for this time of year before numbers begin to increase again later in the month.”

The Ballina mart manager noted that the trade had lifted overall on the previous two weeks.

Sample heifer prices from the sale:

“Forward and beef-type cattle have hardened a bit in price again, with some heavy cattle making up near the €3/kg mark again – and that hadn’t been seen for five or six weeks,” the manager continued.

“The heavy cattle are probably averaging €2.70-2.85/kg and top €3.00/kg for quality cattle over 600kg.

“We had a bunch of 14 Charolais bullocks here last week averaging over 700kg and they cleared €2,200 up and down. They were all bought by a feeder.”

Sample prices from the bullock sale:

Loftus added that these “top-end cattle are becoming scarcer”.

He also said that repeat feedlot buyers and northern buyers are providing “a great boost to the trade for the cattle weighing from 550kg up”.

Commenting on the trade for lighter-type cattle, Loftus said that the trade for plain cattle “has eased a bit” and that “they’re [plain cattle] not as dear as they were but there seems to be great demand for the grass cattle still”.

Clearance levels remain high, with virtually all cattle changing hands at the sale.

The Ballina Mart manager predicts the overall trade to hold and said “if anything, there could be a slight improvement seen in prices”.

Dry cow trade at Ballina

Commenting on the cull cow trade, Loftus said: “Cows have hardened again. There’s very little difference in the price per kilo of prime cattle and cull cows. I saw a cow in the sale weighing 890kg making €2,300 or €2.58/kg.”

He noted a higher amount of heavy, forward cattle in all categories coming to the sale than had been seen two years ago.

Sample prices from the dry cow ring at Ballina Mart:

“I see some farmers who used to finish bullocks are now selling them as 650-700kg rather than bringing them to 800kg. The prices are tempting them out to sell at the mart.”

He added that cow buyers remain confident on the trade saying: “The cow feeders buying store cows are getting on well with them, they have had a good year so far.”

Northern demand remains strong for the right type of cow, he added:

“The Northern buyer remains keen for the top-end feeder and the younger three to five-year-old cows.

“You could sell any amount of cows at the minute with the way the trade is.”

Loftus added that Ballina Mart will host its first major weanling show and sale on September 5, with 6-700 calves expected to be on offer.

Sheep sale

Tuesday’s sale at Ballina Mart also featured a sheep sale. Commenting on its trade, Loftus said: “Lambs are back to back to €2.70-80/kg liveweight for the factory lamb.

“The store lamb is making as high as €3/kg liveweight and there are plenty of customers out there for store lambs.

“The top breeding ewes are making €220/head and cull ewes are making as high as €170-180 for the real heavy ones.”