The last two weeks have been the best for cattle growth, of the year so far. And I don’t need to look to a Teagasc report to confirm that, I just have to look out at my own fields.
Cattle are growing at a phenomenal rate from nothing stronger than grass.
They are putting on “cheap kilos” as the retierd manager of Castleisland mart, Richard Hartnett, used to say.
And with exceptional growth rates many farmers who sell cattle at the marts at this time of the year, myself included, are slow to move.
We are holding on, closing our eyes to the bills, watching the cattle improve with every passing day.
And it’s this determination to hang on to our stock the way Sylvester Stallone hung onto rocks in Cliffhanger, that is one of the factors keeping the mart trade buoyant.
I went to Macroom mart on Saturday, and while there met two farmers who were very happy with the prices they were getting.
The first, a farmer from nearby Dripsey, sold Friesian stock weighing around the 400kg mark and they made the magic €2/kg.
The second seller, Conchúr Ó Luasa, a weekend farmer and daytime teacher from Baile Mhúirne, was also hoping for the best as I sat down beside him before his cattle came into the ring.
“I have two Limousin bullocks and four heifers here today,” Conchúr told me. “They are good cattle, home reared and, because we come from the Gaeltacht, they would have the ‘cúpla focail’ as well,” he said with a smile.
And although Conchúr also warned me that his Limousin bullocks could be a little bit on the flighty side, I have to admit they behaved themselves impeccably in the ring.
They caused no trouble to drover nor auctioneer and made a pretty penny too. His two Limousin steers born in the spring of 2015 weighed 412kg and made €1,005.
Later in the day, two of his heifers weighing 335kg made €860, with a Limousin born in October 2014 weighing 445kg making €960.
“They all did well,” Conchúr told me as we left the sale. “They all behaved themselves and didn’t shame muintir Baile Mhúirne.”
Bhí lá maith aige.
On Saturday in Macroom, dry cows sold from €60 over to €600 over the kilo. Friesian bullocks sold from €185 to €460 over their weight.
Hereford and Aberdeen bullocks sold from €285 to €770 over their weight. Continental bullocks made from €315 to €780 over their weight. Heifers in Macroom mart sold from €275 to €645 over the kilo.
5 Fr steers 430kg 860
1 Hr steer 685kg 1455
3 AA steers 575kg 1230
4 Lm heifers 495kg 1140
3 Ch heifers 470kg 1105
3 Lm hiefers 405kg 1015
1 Lm cow 675kg 1250
The good growing weather also had an impact on the trade in Kilmallock as Denis Kirby reported after Monday’s cattle sale, in English this time.
“We had 600 cattle and 400 calves on offer here on Monday, with the strong grass growth of recent days having a very positive influence on the trade for all types of stock. We had 215 buyers here on Monday.”
Bullocks in Kilmallock sold up to €2.71 per kg. Weanlings hit €2.75 per kg. Dry cows hit €2.02 per kg. Heifers went to a high of €2.64 per kg.
Dairy stock sold for up to €1,280 (paid for a two-year-old calved heifer), while sucklers hit €1850 (paid for a six-year-old Limousin and her Limousin heifer calf).
1 Ch steer 365kg 935
2 Fr steers 398kg 775
4 Hr steers 534kg 1255
2 Lm steers 515kg 1140
2 AA heifers 490kg 1075
2 Lm heifers 443kg 1100
1 AA cow 440kg 890
Kanturk mart manager, Seamus O’Keeffe, was also in high spirits after a cattle sale on Tuesday. “We had a flying trade here with plenty of customers, and a little rain to keep the grass growing nicely. We had 610 cattle on offer which included 223 calves.
In case you need reminding the year is flying by, Seamus added: “our first weanling show and sale of the year is an Autumn born weanling sale and this takes place on July 26, all are welcome. At the same sale we will also have a special draw for all our mart customers, sponsored by AIB.”
1 Hr steer 410kg 860
1 AA steer 490kg 950
3 BB steers 465kg 980
5 Fr steers 435kg 840
1 Hr heifer 405kg 800
1 AA heifer 360kg 780
1 Fr cow 670kg 1040
“We had a very strong trade for bullocks, heifers and dry cows here on Tuesday, with dry cows selling from €500 to €1,360 a head,” was the report we received from Sean Leahy, the manager at Corrin mart.
Corrin had 800 cattle and calves on offer on Tuesday, with store bullocks selling from €240 to €630 over the kilo. Beef bullocks in Corrin made up to €740 over the kilo. Store heifers in Corrin made from €260 to €640 over the kilo with butcher types making up to €790 over the kilo.
1 Sim steer 895kg 1990
8 Lm steers 400kg 1070
1 BB steer 540kg 1260
2 Sim heifers 450kg 1070
4 AA heifers 378kg 870
1 Fr cow 750kg 1190
1 Hr cow 740kg 1360
At Dungarvan cattle sale on Monday, it was positive news here also. “We had a good sale all round here on Monday with suckler cows with bull and heifer calves at foot selling from €1,260 to €1,740.”
7 Lm steers 505kg 1305
4 Lm steers 460kg 1255
7 Hr steers 457kg 1010
1 Ch heifer 570kg 1195
4 AA heifers 507kg 1070
3 Lm heifers 456kg 960
1 Fr cow 840kg 1240
In Skibbereen on Friday dry cows sold from €100 to €585 with the kilo.
Bullocks made from €330 to €800 with their weight. Heifers in Skibbereen sold from €400 to €865 with the kilo.
1 BB steer 645kg 1440
2 AA steers 635kg 1350
1 Ch steer 405kg 1150
1 Hr steer 333kg 870
1 Ch heifer 590kg 1380
1 Ch cow 725kg 1310
1 Fr cow 830kg 1255
And finally for this week we turn to Bandon mart and, whatever the meat factories might be saying in an attempt to dampen down the trade for the autumn rush, their agents are certainly coughing up the dough in the marts right now when a fleshy cow enters the fray.
An example of this would be two dry cows in Bandon on Monday, one a Limousin weighing 880kg and another a Charolais weighing 855kg; both made the princely sum of €1,800 a piece.
Dry cows on Monday made from €50 to €900 with the kilo. Continental bullocks on Monday sold for up to €750 with their weight. Friesian bullocks sold from €220 to €520 with their weight.
Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks sold from €400 to €750 with the kilo.
Heifers in Bandon on Monday made from €350 to €800 with the kilo.
1 BB steer 625kg 1325
1 Lm steer 450kg 1020
4 Fr steers 567kg 1080
4 Hr steers 547kg 1160
1 Lm heifer 675kg 1480
3 Sim heifers 521kg 1170
1 Lm cow 790kg 1460
So on a week when there is really no bad news to report from the marts, let’s just hope it’s the same story on Saturday when our boys in green take to the field once more.