Our fickle calf trade clearly depends on weather for exporters

Cattle marts report
Our fickle calf trade clearly depends on weather for exporters

At Bandon Mart last Monday, this Aberdeen Angus bull, born May 2018, sold for €1,930.
At Bandon Mart last Monday, this Aberdeen Angus bull, born May 2018, sold for €1,930.

When I was a young fellow, I noticed that you’d trade puppies a lot faster outside the mart, if you charged thirty quid, rather than trying to offload them for free.

Nobody wants something for free, it makes people suspicious.

And so it is to calves we go.

With good old Storm Jorge coming down hard over the weekend, the calf trade at the end of last week took some of the greatest pounding of all.

With exporters unable to export, due to high seas caused by old Georgie boy, calves (Friesian bulls in particular) were left to the mercy of buyers like you and I.

And with that, the true value of the calf came home to roost.

Nobody wanted them.

Not even for free.

We have all been burdened and indeed burned with calf rearing for far too long, it’s a risky business that many will not partake in again.

This is what one farmer said to me, as Georgie raged, “Even calves sold for nothing are costing too much.”

I have been calling (for a long time now) for calf buyers in Ireland who are still willing to rear calves to be paid a subsidy of €160 per calf.

Either that, or canonise these poor, penniless slaves.

A farmer said to me over the weekend that I should increase my call to €200 per calf.

And so, today I have increased my asking price.

Give the calf rearer some reason to believe he is on the right track, and on the right track he will go.

It’s as simple as that.

Otherwise, it’s bon voyage, calf, and bon voyage to the calf rearer too.

Anyhow, with Storm Jorge’s passing, so too the slump in the calf trade ran out of steam.

By Monday, it was business as usual, and in Bandon, things were back to normal.

Or what is considered normal these days.

Bandon mart manager, Tom McCarthy, commenting on their calf sale, said, “A lot better trade here today.”

Bandon had 1,500 calves on offer.

The Friesian bull bounced back, selling from €30 to €85 a head, and stronger lads made up to €175 a head.

In Bandon on Monday, dry cows sold from €1 to €505 over the kilo.

Friesian bullocks made from €220 up to €400 with the kilo.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €350 to €650 with the kilo.

Continental bullocks sold for up to €750.

Heifers here sold from €350 to €570 with the kilo.

Bandon

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Hr steers 520kg 1160

7 AA steers 492kg 1040

3 Sim steers 433kg 1155

4 Fr steers 541kg 905

4 AA heifers 526kg 1000

1 Sh cow 805kg 1310

1 Fr cow 755kg 1110

After Tuesday’s cattle sale in Kanturk, straight-talking mart manager, Seamus O’Keeffe, gave us this report.

“We had a big sale of 1,320 animals, including 700 calves.

“Plenty of customers for all animals, except our friends, the poor Friesian bulls with no milk in them.”

Kanturk

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

10 Fr steers 665kg 1110

6 AA steers 507kg 1005

10 Hr steers 506kg 980

8 Hr steers 340kg 710

6 Hr heifers 570kg 980

6 AA heifers 440kg 815

1 Fr cow 745kg €950

Next, it’s to Kilmallock mart we go, where Denis Kirby of GVM reported to us after Monday’s cattle sale,

“Despite the very bad weather, the vendors of close to 1,200 stock were well rewarded here at Kilmallock on Monday. This number included 500 calves.

“Calf prices took a lift this week, as exporters were back purchasing in large numbers once again.”

Up to €425 was paid in the calf ring, for a four-week-old Belgian Blue heifer.

Bullocks sold for up to €2.14 per kg in Kilmallock. Weanling bulls hit €2.63 per kg.

Dry cows sold for up to €1590 a head or €1.75 per kg.

Heifers in Kilmallock made up to €2.50 per kg.

Dairy stock sold for up to €1,650 a head. A seven-year-old in-calf Aberdeen Angus suckler cow made €1,150.

Next Monday, March 9, a clearance sale of 50 top-class dairy cows is scheduled to get under way at 12 noon.

Kilmallock

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Lim steer 535kg 1125

2 Hr steers 540kg 1050

3 Ch steers 527kg 1000

4 AA steers 505kg 980

1 AA heifer 345kg 850

2 Hr heifers 340kg 705

1 AA cow 490kg 780

In Macroom on Saturday, dry cows sold from €40 under to €500 with the kilo.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €240 to €665 with the kilo. Continental bullocks made from €310 to €710 with the kilo.

Heifers here sold from €180 to €735 with the kilo.

Weanling bulls sold from €235 up to €500 with the kilo.

Macroom

Saturday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Lm steers 690kg 1400

1 Ch steer 665kg 1375

2 AA steers 660kg 1325

1 Ch heifer 350kg 845

1 Lm heifer 480kg 1115

1 Fr cow 610kg 950

6 Fr cows 635kg 995

After the sale of weanlings, sucklers and dairy cows in Ennis mart on Tuesday, Ann Keane gave us this report.

“Numbers back in the bull and heifer weanling rings, but calf numbers have increased by 50% on the week. The trade in the bull ring was similar to last week, with heifers improved by €20 to €30 a head.

“Trade for the better calves also improved on Tuesday, by €10 to €20 per head, but poor calves were a tough trade, as usual. “Calves need to be at least three weeks old and well-fed, to attract interest,” Ann Keane said.

“Pairs in the suckler ring reached €2,250 on Tuesday.

Only a single dairy cow on offer, a second calver that sold for €1,380.

Looking back to last Thursday’s general cattle sale in Ennis, Geraldine Walsh reported, “Numbers were back on Thursday, with just over 650 on offer.

“More store bullocks about, and the trade improved in the bullock ring by €3 per head.

“Heifers a similar trade to the previous week.

“In the cow ring, more of a mix of dairy and continentals, and more store type cows.

“The trade for the cull cows equally as strong as last week, with the top lots exceeding €2/kg, and topping out at €2.17/kg. Aged bulls averaged €1.80/kg.”

Ennis

Thursday

No Breed Sex Weight €

8 Lm steers 324kg 940

6 Ch steers 372kg 1100

2 Hr steers 532kg 1150

2 AA steers 456kg 950

1 Ch heifer 495kg 1360

1 AA cow 675kg 1400

1 Ch cow 825kg 1740

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