Friesian bulls hit the high seas, as a very positive change in the weather lifts all boats

The change in the weather earlier this week was about as welcome as Conor McGregor at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago on Sunday.

He outshone Leo at the parade, the way a vigorous Charolais suckler calf outshines a bucket-reared fellow.

For while lofty Leo might profess to say and do the right thing, Conor is a bit more of a scamp. And if there is one thing we Irish love, both here and abroad, it’s an Irishman who doesn’t give two hoots about anything. A devil who rarely follows the herd. And McGregor, to give him credit, is nothing if not a maverick.

And speaking of Maverick (and herds), the calf trade this week sees a rise. Tom McCarthy, Bandon mart manager, noted a pick-up in the trade for the shipping bull. And the shipping Friesian bull, as you well know, needs a lift about as much as we do ourselves.

Tom said, “Shipping calves here on Monday were up a lot on last week’s trade.”

In Bandon mart on Monday, the mart had 1,500 calves on offer, with Friesian bulls, anxious for travel, all making between €50 and €101 — and those Friesian bulls destined to remain at home making up to €145 a head.

And looking at the larger animal, dry cows in Bandon sold from €1/kg to €475 with the kilo. Friesian bullocks made from €200 to €400 with the kilo. Continental bullocks made up to €700 with the kilo. Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks sold from €280 to €640 with the kilo. Heifers in Bandon on Monday sold from €200 to €565 with their weight.

Bandon

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Lm steers 450kg 1150

6 AA steers 545kg 1095

7 Hr steers 365kg 720

1 AA heifer 645kg 1150

2 Lm heifers 492kg 1050

1 AA cow 865kg 1340

1 Fr cow 780kg 1025

And staying on a brighter note, and back to the weather, as I mentioned at the beginning, hopefully now with a bit more spring in the day there will be a bit more spring in our step and in the mart trade.

We go next to Castleisland mart and have a chat with auctioneer Noel Corcoran who spoke to me about current difficulties facing us on the ground, as a result of the climate above our heads and all the hot air emanating from London and Brussels.

Noel said, “We had a slightly more difficult week’s trading with the uncertainty of the political scene in England and also the less favourable weather taking its toll on the trade.

“The lighter store heifer was slightly easier this week, with the forward store and finished heifer in good demand.

“The cow trade remains steady here in Castleisland with the fleshed cows in most demand, but many to be bought at around €1/kg.”

And switching to Monday’s calf and weanling sale Noel added: “We had a big sale of calves here on Monday in Castleisland with prices slightly up on last week’s trade. Weanling bulls met with a great trade with plenty of buyers in attendance.”

And looking at calves, “Continental heifers were in good demand with prices of up to €420 achieved. Top continental bull calves realised up to €490 a head.

“And while the inclement weather over the weekend hampered the shipping of Friesian bulls, they should be on the high seas by the time your mart report is published. And as a result there was a visible increase in prices for shipping calves on Monday.”

Castleisland

Wednesday / Thursday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Ch cow 685kg 1005

1 Fr cow 680kg 770

1 Fr cow 658kg 720

1 Fr cow 600kg 645

1 Fr cow 526kg 450

1 Fr cow 650kg 720

1 Fr cow 628kg 680

And reporting on Kilkenny mart, mart manager George Candler voiced quite similar concerns to Noel.

“The broken weather of the past two weeks has been curtailing potential buyers from operating. Hopefully with the promise of better weather this week it might encourage more activity,” he said.

“And our friends across the water are also causing a lot of uncertainty to potential purchasers of cattle. A number of agents have suggested that many of their customers are waiting to see developments regarding Brexit.

“But even allowing for these problems, quality cattle met with a solid selling trade on Thursday with continentals attracting the most interest. The brave purchasers who did operate were still willing to pay up to €2.30 to €2.70 per kilo for quality continentals.

“Cull cows saw prices stabilise and, in cases, increase.”

In Kilkenny on Thursday continental cull cows sold from €1.20 to €1.90 per kilo with Friesian cull cows selling from €0.90 to €1.40 per kilo. The mart had 900 cattle on offer.

Looking at the more recent sale of calves in Kilkenny on Tuesday George added: “A sharper trade for all calves with farmer buyers especially active for the better quality calf, with an exceptional demand for continental bulls and heifers, with heifers to €300 and bulls peaking at €370 per head. Quality Friesian bulls ranging from €100 to €170 per head. Shippers were more active for export type calves, with a lift in price for these types by €10 to €20 per head compared to last week’s returns.

“The fact that there were no sailing cancellations this week is an added advantage.”

Kilkenny

Thursday

No Breed Sex Weight €

9 AA steers 345kg 740

3 Fr steers 320kg 650

1 Lm steer 830kg 1700

2 BB steers 430kg 1075

1 Lm heifer 625kg 1280

3 AA heifers 555kg 1190

1 Ch heifer 460kg 1060

Dungarvan manager Ger Flynn reported “a very big sale” of cattle on Monday with “a steady trade throughout.”

Dungarvan

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

7 Hr steers 550kg 1060

3 Lm steers 446kg 925

2 AA heifers 502kg 995

2 Lm heifers 412kg 870

2 Ch heifers 480kg 1035

1 Lm cow 620kg 1020

1 Fr cow 780kg 900

At a big mart sale in Corrin on Tuesday (1,450 cattle on offer) mart manager Sean Leahy reported “a large sale with a lively trade.”

In Corrin on Tuesday store bullocks sold from €250 to €585 over the kilo with beef bullocks making up to €680 over the kilo.

Heifers here sold from €180 to €413 over the kilo with butcher types making up to €540 over the kilo.

Corrin

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

3 Lim steers 616kg 1295

5 Hr steers 510kg 1000

2 Hr heifers 400kg 795

4 Lm heifers 412kg 950

4 AA heifers 500kg 970

1 Fr cow 585kg 970

1 Fr cow 765kg 1050

And good news on the calf front from Kanturk mart also, with mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe also spotting the pick-up in trade.

“We had a big sale of stock here on Tuesday with 1,320 animals on offer, this number included 690 calves. There was a good demand for all types of stock, with our friend the Friesian bull calf up by €30/€40. Friesian bull calves for shipping made from €40 to €70, with stronger Friesian bull calves making up to €150 a head. Prices for larger cattle up on last week with plenty of customers looking for store cattle.”

Kanturk

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

5 Fr steers 550kg 895

8 AA steers 290kg 630

7 Hr steers 312kg 680

4 Hr heifers 286kg 590

8 AA heifers 370kg 710

1 Fr cow 640kg 720

1 Fr cow 540kg 560

Skibbereen mart manager Tom McCarthy reported, “a fine sale of cattle once again here on Friday with over 300 cattle on offer.”

In Skibb on Friday dry cows sold from €100 under to €500 with the kilo. Continental bullocks made from €350 to €700 with the kilo. Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks sold from €300 to €570 with the kilo. Heifers here sold from €200 to €650 with the kilo. Dairy stock in Skibbereen sold from €1100 to €1340 with the kilo.

Suckler stock made from €1000 to €1410 in Skibbereen on Friday.

Skibbereen

Friday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Ch steer 385kg 1010

3 Ch steers 658kg 1240

4 Hr steers 540kg 1110

3 Lm heifers 400kg 895

3 Ch heifers 546kg 1140

1 Hr cow 770kg 1260

1 Fr cow 730kg 1080

Kilmallock Mart on Monday had 1600 cattle and calves were on offer (850 calves). Denis Kirby of GVM reported “Due to the good weather prices were very strong.”

Bullocks in Kilmallock sold for up €2.29 per kg. Weanling bulls made up to €2.60 per kg. Dry cows sold for up to €1200 a head or €1.78 per kg.

Weanling heifers made up to €2.29 per kg. Heifers sold for up to €2.02 per kg. Dairy stock hit €1,430 for calved heifers.

Kilmallock

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

5 Hr steers 370Kg 1100

4 AA steers 535kg 1085

7 BB steers 547kg 995

3 Fr steers 527kg 965

4 AA heifers 348kg 770

1 Fr cow 485kg 785

1 Lim cow 470kg 675

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