Survey results: How do Irish farmers sell their cattle?

A survey of 1,100 farmers has revealed that 78% of farmers are dependent on marts to sell cattle and 59% use marts to buy cattle.

The survey – conducted recently by Herdwatch – also showed that 94% of farmers sell animals multiple times per year and one in four sells animals every other month or less.

Most farmers sell animals via a mixture of marts, direct to other farms or factories – and 26% sell via all three.

However, the Herdwatch survey suggests that the mart is the most popular outlet for trading animals followed closely by factories and other farms.

According to Herdwatch, the main reasons given why farmers sell at the mart is “to get the fairest market price”.

With limitations on marts at present, Herdwatch said that farmers “now face reduced return from their animals should they be more dependent on factories”.

In addition, when selling to other farms, the majority always sell to the same farmers because they have built a trusted trading relationship with the buyer.

On buying trends, three in four farmers buy animals, with a large majority – some 84% – preferring to buy animals from other farmers over the mart – with a figure of 59%.

Half of the farmers who buy animals from other farms buy from the same farms each time, to provide surety on what they are buying whether they are looking to improve their own breeding stock or to reduce costs.

Mervyn Harvey from Herdwatch commented on the matter, saying:

“We know how important marts are to help farmers, who are often working in isolation, to socialise and our survey has confirmed just how important marts are to maintaining our critical food supply chain.

As part of this battle against Covid-19, many marts have re-opened but are operating under restrictions, meaning that some farmers do not have an outlet to sell or buy cattle at one of the busiest periods of the year – which is a concern.

“We’d encourage everyone, in a safe manner and in line with current advice, to support farmers in any way they can in the next few months,” Harvey concluded.