Mart trade: ‘Grass’ buyers starting to emerge at the ringside

Grass buyers are beginning to emerge in certain regions across the country and are playing a vital role in boosting cattle prices. However, poor grass growth is still having a negative impact on mart trade.

The weather has been good over the weekend and some grass buyers are getting ‘itchy feet’ to buy, while others are waiting cautiously to see what the weather will bring this week.

Some farmers are aiming to source stock before the peak grass buying period kicks into gear, while sellers are holding cattle in order to match selling time with peak demand.

Last week, competition among buyers for quality stock drove the cattle trade and mart managers have reported good clearance rates right across the board.

Castlerea Mart

A large number of cattle were presented for sale at Castlerea Mart, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday (March 22). The trade was reported as strong – especially weanlings and store lots.

There was an increased demand from farmers which led to increased prices. Calves and breeding stock were also reported to be in demand with a renewed interest in suckler animals.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Charolais: 605kg – €1,545 or €2.55/kg;
  • Limousin: 470kg – €1,190 or €2.53/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 565kg – €1,345 or €2.38/kg;
  • Simmental: 385kg – €1,050 or €2.72/kg.

A good clearance rate was achieved in the weanling rings and a strong trade was reported.

Sample weanling prices:
  • Charolais heifer: 270kg – €900 or €3.33/kg;
  • Limousin heifer: 230kg – €770 or €3.34/kg;
  • Charolais bull: 290kg – €1,045 or €3.87/kg;
  • Limousin bull: 285kg – €985 or €3.45/kg.

According to the mart’s Brendan Egan, cows with calves at foot made up to €1,700/head and in-calf cows traded for €950-1,500/head.

Sample dry cow prices:
  • Charolais: 790kg – €1,585 or €2.00/kg;
  • Limousin: 790kg – €1,585 or €2.00/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 835kg – €1,775 or €2.12/kg;
  • Limousin: 810kg – €1,585 or €1.95/kg.

In the calf ring, dairy cross calves traded for €5-85/head, while better-quality Friesian bull calves traded for €40-115/head. Aberdeen Angus types sold for €150-300/head, while continental calves made up to €540/head on the day.

Furthermore, some 130 bullocks passed through the ring on Monday, March 19. Again, a strong trade was reported. Generally speaking, steers made €300-960 along with their weight; the average price paid was €652 over.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 440kg – €1,200 or €2.72/kg;
  • Limousin: 525kg – €1,430 or €2.72/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 740kg – €1,615 or €2.18/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 665kg – €1,465 or €2.20/kg.

Ennis Mart

Numbers were reported to be similar to the previous weeks at Ennis Mart on Thursday last (March 22). However, cull cow numbers increased slightly.

The bullock trade was reported to be very strong with prices for quality lots increasing by €20/head in some cases. The heifer trade was also reported as strong; heavier types improved by €20/head, according to the mart’s Danny Moran.

Sample bullock prices:
  • Charolais: 407kg – €1,255 or €3.08/kg;
  • Limousin: 465kg – €1,300 or €2.79/kg;
  • Charolais: 560kg – €1,510 or €2.69/kg;
  • Hereford: 490kg – €1,165 or €2.37/kg.

He said: “Forward cull cows met a good trade, but feeders were well improved on previous weeks.”

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 395kg – €1,110 or €2.81/kg;
  • Charolais: 450kg – €1,190 or €2.64/kg;
  • Charolais: 620kg – €1,580 or €2.54/kg;
  • Hereford: 590kg – €1,145 or €1.94/kg.

A number of aged bulls also passed through the ring of the Clare-based venue; these lots sold to a top-price of €1,640.

Sample cull cow prices:
  • Limousin: 575kg – €1,340 or €2.33/kg;
  • Charolais: 455kg – €1,040 or €2.28/kg;
  • Charolais: 765kg – €1,670 or €2.18/kg;
  • Friesian: 775kg – €1,320 or €1.74/kg.

Raphoe Mart

Last Thursday’s sale in Raphoe Mart, Co. Donegal, featured a “good” entry of cattle, according to the mart’s Anne Harkin.

She added: “Buyers around the ring were very anxious to purchase stock. Plainer Friesian, Aberdeen Angus and Hereford types all sold to improved prices.”

Top-class bulls weighing over 600kg sold at €945-1,055 over, the mart manager stated. Beef bullocks made €600-805 over and lighter stores made €400-825 along with their weight.

Moving to heifers, beef heifers made €560-950 over and store lots traded at €350-805 over or €2.20-2.80/kg. Dry cows sold for €715-1,565/head.

Kilkenny Mart

A smaller cattle sale, consisting of 850 animals, was witnessed in Kilkenny Mart, Cillin Hill on Thursday last, according to the mart’s auctioneer George Candler.

The trade was reported as “sharper” – especially for quality continentals. However, plainer Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Friesian lots proved more difficult to sell.

In addition, he said, cull cows met a good solid trade. A top-price of €1,880 was achieved by a Limousin cow weighing 855kg.

Looking at heifer prices, the heavier lots made €2.10-2.55/kg, €1.70-2.60/kg was paid for the forward store lots and the lighter store classes (<400kg) made €1.70-2.85/kg.

Sample heifer prices:
  • Limousin: 655kg – €1,650 or €2.52/kg;
  • Charolais: 620kg – €1,510 or €2.44/kg;
  • Simmental: 535kg – €1,360 or €2.54/kg;
  • Hereford: 480kg – €1,000 or €2.08/kg;
  • Belgian Blue: 335kg – €920 or €2.75/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 270kg – €520 or €1.93/kg.

In the steer ring, Candler said quality beef and forward store lots sold well and the majority traded at €1.60-2.65/kg. Friesian cull cows made €1.00-1.70/kg, while continental lots sold for €1.30-2.20/kg.

Sample steer prices:
  • Charolais: 730kg – €1,700 or €2.33/kg;
  • Aberdeen Angus: 705kg – €1,620 or €2.30/kg;
  • Limousin: 585kg – €1,490 or €2.55/kg;
  • Friesian: 505kg – €1,005 or €1.99/kg;
  • Limousin: 410kg – €1,200 or €2.93/kg;
  • Charolais: 405kg – €1,065 or €2.63/kg.

Tullow Mart

Some 400 head of cattle were on offer at Tullow Mart on Friday, March 23. According to the mart’s Eric Driver, the trade was “honest and steady”.

Friesian beef and forward bullocks sold for €1.80-2.00 over, while Hereford and Angus types traded for €2.00-2.25/kg depending on age and quality.

In general, store bullocks met a very lively trade from farmers and the bad weather didn’t take its toll on prices achieved, he said.

Continental bullocks traded for €2.40-2.80/kg; some quality bullocks fetched close to €3.00/kg in some cases. Lighter lots sold for €1.80-2.70/kg.

In the heifer ring, beef and forward types traded for €2.00-2.50/kg, while “exceptional lots” made upwards of €2.75/kg. Hereford and Angus store lots sold for €2.10-2.35/kg and up, while continental types made €2.80/kg upwards.

In the cull cow ring, Friesian feeder type lots traded for €150 over; younger, better-quality Friesian cows made €250-300 along with their weight. Continental cows sold for €200-850 over.

A full clearance was achieved in the calf ring. Friesian bulls – suitable for export – sold for €45-90/head. Angus and Hereford calves traded for €100-310/head, while continental types sold to a top-price of €445/head.