‘Marts the number one venue for cattle sales in Ireland’

Co-operative marts remain the number one venue for livestock sales in Ireland with over 1.7m head of cattle a year selling through local marts.

This was the key message delivered at a national conference of ICOS mart directors and managers held in Portlaoise this week.

Yearly cattle movements through marts surpass those through factories (1.6m head) and farm-to-farm movements (1.2m head).

ICOS National Marts Executive Ray Doyle said marts can sometimes be stereotyped as a more traditional method of buying and selling livestock but they are still the shrewd choice for farmers who want to get a top price and a guarantee of payment.

The marts have agreed that they need to encourage more farmers to actively conduct their own business in person at the mart by enhancing and evolving services as they have been doing for over 60 years.

“While agents and dealers provide a valuable service to some part time farmers and farmers with low time thresholds there is a cost when engaging their services but it should be realised that the auction process is best served with as big an audience as possible,” he said.

Doyle also spoke about the recent marts modernisation programme, which has seen the installation of new technology facilities and electronic data displays installed in marts throughout the country.

The screens allow for the uniform display of information for farmers, including EBI and beef genomics data, which is of widespread benefit at a time when farmers are increasingly buying animals on the basis of their genetic profile, particularly dairy stock.

“Overall, the availability of information on cattle movements, days in herd, breed and genetics is very substantial in mart centres and this can’t be readily accessed either with private deals, the internet or through direct farm to farm selling,” he said.

Doyle added that the meeting agreed that continuing innovation and modernisation is necessary to ensure that the best possible range of services are made available to farmers on a consistent basis.