Last Monday saw an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, much to the delight of all.
You can now go about easily replacing that broken washing machine.
The worn out dishwasher too can get the road, a replacement can be purchased without fear or trepidation.
Or buy a 55-inch TV from any one of a million electrical retailers, all open and happy to let you wander in and browse for the TV of your dreams. Happy days.
Alas, you still cannot walk into your local cattle mart with cheque book in hand to purchase a bullock.
The powers that be forbid such a simple action.
In order of necessity, it seems a new telly takes precedence over our livestock industry.
Why are you now free to buy a telly and not a bullock?
Why are our marts not allowed to open under the strict health guidelines that are in place?
Why is so little being done to support and reopen our marts?
Yes, we have online auctions, but an online auction only caters for the IT (information technology) brigade, the younger crowd who make up about 1% of those who go to the mart.
The online mart does not cater for farmers like you and me, who grew up in marts listening to auctioneers like Jack McGraw.
An online sale is not even close to the real thing.
A bit like online dating, the online mart could bamboozle you with flashing lights, mesmerise you with its myriad of fancy numbers.
In the finish, leaving a fellow feeling out of touch, dejected and all alone.
I need an online mart about as much as I need a broomstick, or a prod of an 8-inch needle.
To be fair to our marts, they are doing Trojan work in providing farmers with online and tender services, to sell and buy cattle.
But they shouldn’t have to do this.
As an agri-business, they are entitled to much more.
It’s clearly now a world of massive TVs for the multitude, and narrow minds when it comes to the beef farmer. And so to the marts we go, beginning with Monday’s online auction sale of cattle at Kilmallock.
In the last week, the mart has sold over 1,000 cattle online, to 178 buyers.
Prices were up at all sales, indeed they were “on fire” according to Denis Kirby of GVM, with up to €3.27 per kg paid for cattle.
At Kilmallock’s Monday sale for bullocks, top stock made up to €2.47 per kg.
On Wednesday, dry cows sold to €1,330 a head or €2 per kg.
Heifers hit €2.58 per kg on the same day.
On Friday last, up to 500 calves were sold at the mart. Denis reported that calves “were in huge demand, with up to €470 paid for strong calves, and young ones making up to €350.”
No Breed Sex Weight €
1 Lim steer 390kg 830
7 Hr steers 389kg 800
6 AA steers 358kg 750
4 Fr steers 336kg 590
4 Lim heifers 295kg 760
3 AA heifers 322kg 650
1 Lim cow 455kg 680
At the mart’s organic sale on Saturday, 100 cattle sold for up to €1,250 a head or €3.27 per kg, overall making it one of the dearest organic sales ever held at the Limerick mart.
At Kilmallock, all cattle must be pre-booked, anyone wishing to view cattle must make an appointment to do so.
All clients should make sure to register their details to view sales and purchase cattle by logging on to the livestock-live.com website.
Of course our hope throughout the ongoing Covid-19 saga is that our marts will eventually reopen, if only by degrees.
I read with great fascination an article in last Saturday’s Irish Examiner that got me thinking dummies in the marts could be the way forward, when they reopen.
The article stated that a restaurant in faraway America had placed dummies at various tables, to give the impression of a bustling trade.
The proprietor said, “When we needed to solve the problem of social distancing and reducing our restaurant’s occupancy by half, the solution seemed obvious, fill it with interestingly dressed dummies.”
Yes, normality left the building when the coronavirus arrived.
Earlier, when marts had to decimate numbers in attendance for social distancing, I noticed that the hustle and bustle of a busy mart was sadly missing.
To my mind, there is nothing like a busy mart to get farmers’ fingers bidding, and cattle moving.
As our marts hopefully return to some class of normality, would it not be a good idea to install a few ‘interestingly dressed dummies’ to help with filling the ranks?
One rugged, bespectacled dummy could even have a camera strapped around his neck, to look like myself.
As long as the dummies do not interfere with the bidding process, write rubber cheques, or frighten the cattle with their dead stare, what harm could they do?
It’s just a thought for down the line.
Next, Macroom mart, where it was all go on Thursday, for their first online sale.
The sale was run through the marteye.ie website, another popular choice these days for marts anxious to connect with buyers and sellers.
Mart manager John O’Mahony was pleased with how the sale went.
“The sale was a great success,” John said.
“We had a handy number of cattle on offer, with good demand for all types of cattle.
“Cattle in general are a good trade, with plenty of people looking for cattle for grass.
“We will be continuing with it next Saturday.”
Clare Co-op Marts next, and a report on three online marts sales at Ennis mart, beginning with the mart’s first online cow and calf sale, which took place earlier this week.
“We had a full clearance here on Tuesday,” Geraldine Walsh of Ennis mart reported.
“Calves were a fine trade. Charolais bull calves made up to €325, Angus bull calves made up to €295 with Hereford bull calves making to €255.
“Suckler cows with calves at foot sold for up to €1,430.”
The mart’s first online sale for cull cows, aged bulls, and heifers, was held on Thursday.
Geraldine Walsh gave us the following report following from that sale.
“There was a great trade for cull cows, with over 40% of them bought by people not present to view stock before the auction.
“Friesian culls made €1.20/kg to €1.50/kg and continentals made to €1.96/kg.
“Some good store heifers available, and these made to €2.44/kg.
“It must be said that the online sale proved very popular and both regular and new customers competed very well.”
And at the mart-s other online auction on Friday, it was bullocks taking centre stage.
Geraldine said, “It [online auctioning] was a new departure for some customers, and for many, it was their first time buying and selling online.
“It proved quite a success, with almost a complete clearance.
“We had some lovely stores on offer, which helped the trade.”
No Breed Sex Weight €
1 Ch steer 610kg 1350
6 AA steers 740kg 1360
2 Hr steers 677kg 1280
6 Lm steers 506kg 1220
2 Lm heifers 482kg 1160
4 Hr heifers 399kg 730
1 Fr 705kg cow 1060
Kilkenny mart on Thursday had 500 cattle on offer, with quality cattle selling well.
Mart manger George Candler gave us more detail on the sale.
“We had a slightly bigger sale of cattle in Kilkenny on Thursday, with excellent prices for forward continentals between 450 to 520 kilo.
Cull cows also met a good selling trade, resulting in a 100% clearance.”
In Kilkenny on Thursday, bullocks sold from €1.60/kg to €2.70/kg. Heifers made from €1.65/kg to €2.65/kg.
Friesian cull cows sold from €1.15 to €1.65 per kilo. Continental cull cows made from €1.35 to €1.85 per kilo.
No Breed Sex Weight €
6 Sim steers 655kg 1460
9 Fr steers 580kg 1100
7 Ch steers 545kg 1300
5 Lim steers 370kg 900
3 Sim heifers 605kg 1245
1 BB heifer 455kg 1080
5 AA heifers 335kg 665
Overall mart trade
Cattle market trading for the week ending Tuesday May 19 had bullocks averaging €2.05/kg, dairy stock on €1,525. Dry cows were on €1.58/kg. Heifers were averaging €2.15/kg, suckler cows at €2.97/kg or €1,160 per lot.
Weanling bulls €2.20/kg and weanling heifers at €2.40/kg.
Calves for the week were making €175 a head (source www.livestock-live.com).