‘Online selling has been a tremendous success’ – Tullow’s Eric Driver

Some 800 sheep were on offer at Tullow Mart’s online sale on Tuesday, June 2. Lambs were a harder sell compared to the previous week, according to the mart manager, Eric Driver.

Even though the trade was back for lambs, prices were still relatively good, considering the dip in factory prices over the bank holiday weekend.

Forward-type spring lambs weighing upwards of 44kg made from €116/head up to €127/head. However, the majority of the well-fleshed lambs sold for €118-124/head.

Lambs weighing 42-43kg made from €110-120/head. Furthermore, lambs weighing as much as 40kg sold for €103/head.

Lighter store lambs weighing 34kg sold for €84/head. In general, lambs were easier by €5-7/head across the board, according to Eric.

Cast ewes were plentiful on the day, with prices for these types also easier by €5-10/head.

Pen of ewes on offer at Tullow Mart prior to Covid-19

Eric added: “The ‘lesser-type’ ewes were back as much as €10/head. Whereas, the strong feeding-types were back about €5-7/head.

Heavy ewes were a much quieter trade. Ewes weighing 104kg sold for €124/head. Whereas, in previous weeks, those types would have made upwards of €134/head.

“A couple of well-fleshed ewes weighing 107kg made up to €135/head, but they were few and far between. The prices of €140/head we were seeing a few weeks ago are long gone.”

There were a few pens of breeding hoggets presented for sale on the day. Prices for these lots ranged from €150/head up to €165/head.

Ewes with both single and twin lambs made from €150/head up to €225/head.

Online selling

Eric noted that the online selling system that the mart has moved to over the last few weeks has been a “tremendous success”.

However, he envisages problems next week, when the mart reopens its doors and opens up the mart ring for buyers – albeit under strict protocols and social distancing measures.

He explained: “I won’t say I’m not looking forward to opening the doors of the mart, but I am concerned because it’s going to involve new training again. I have only got to grips with the new online system we have in place at the minute.

From next week on, it’s going to be a new system again. Overall, though, I am happy that we are able to open the doors of the mart. It will be great to see people back around the ring. It’s the best way to sell any animal.

“However, it is going to bring about new challenges over the coming months.”

Sheep sale in full swing at Tullow Mart prior to Covid-19

Eric added: “We will only be able to accommodate 26-28 people in the ring at any one time, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

So, if it is a case where we have more than 28 looking to get entry into the ring, we are going to have to put in a place a ‘lottery system’, which is going to leave people disappointed if they don’t get picked out and can’t get into the ring.

“I’m also a small bit concerned about people who are bidding online and whether or not they will be able to keep up with the bidders who are around the mart ring making bids; I’m told it will work out; we’ll have to wait and see though.

“I am pleasantly surprised with how well the online platform has worked and it’s going to continue to be a very useful ‘tool’ in the future.

“But, there is going to be a major learning curve next week when we reopen the doors and try to, I suppose, handle both the bids coming from around the mart ring and the bids coming from online buyers.”