2015 was the year of the mart.
Bar a little slip in prices in November, it was plain sailing for most of the year.
Looking into my own affairs on the land, I saw very little of the meat factory in 2015, choosing instead to sell stock early, and sell them at the mart.
I avoided the factory the way Joan Burton now probably avoids small boats (after the Tanaiste fell out of a boat in the floods at Thomastown, Co Kilkenny).
Suckler farmers I spoke to over Christmas were pleased enough with the weanling trade in the marts, even if prices did weaken as the year came to a close.
And as for dairy farmers, from the dropped calf to the dry cow, the mart was very kind to them in 2015, even if the milk cheque deteriorated as the year went on.
Hardship last year was confined to those trying to buy stock. That was where the real pain and suffering could be found.
But that was 2015.
This is a new year and in the words of the famous Senator Ted Kennedy, “the work begins anew”.
The wheel is always turning, and in the mart, the wheel has a nasty habit of turning very quickly.
I was in Bandon mart on Monday to see the first cattle and calf sale of 2016.
Bandon mart had 100 calves on offer, and the calf trade could only be described as ‘flying high’.
At the sale, I met a dairy farmer from nearby Clonakilty who was there to see how the trade would start.
“Most of the calves born on my farm are Hereford, and I’m here to gauge the market, to decide if I should sell my calves after two weeks or hold onto them for a month.
"I have always felt that selling a calf early is a bit like leaving a three-year-old out without a coat.
“Last year was a good year for selling calves, I sold here in Bandon, and they averaged €270 between my heifers and bulls,” the Clonakilty farmer told me.
Space, of course, could well be a determining factor this year on dairy farms where calves are appearing, with many farmers’ expansion plans perhaps not stretching as far as extra calf pens.
And in Bandon on Monday, space was also an issue, in the ring itself. It was a full house, between buyers and onlookers. Calf buyers were out in force.
The first animal of 2016 sold at the mart was a month old Hereford bull calf.
He made €240. Later on, Hereford bull and heifer calves soared to over €400, as buyers became anxious for numbers.
A month-old Limousin on Monday fetched €510.
Month old Friesian bull calves on Monday went, for the most part, from €100 up to about €180.
“That was a very good sale of calves,” I mentioned to a farmer, as I left the ring later in the day.
“It was better than very good,” he replied. And how right he was.
Looking at larger cattle, as you would expect for the opening sale of the new year, it was a tidy affair, with prices remaining as steady as they were before we took our Christmas break.
No Breed Sex Weight €
4 Sim steers 503kg 1045
4 Fr steers 330kg 570
1 BB steer 300kg 720
4 Fr steers 620kg 1050
1 Fr cow 785kg 1060
1 AA cow 550kg 650
1 Fr cow 710kg 885
In Bandon on Monday, dry cows sold from €80 under to €275 with the kilo.
I went to Corrin mart on Tuesday, there is no stopping me this year.
I met mart manager Sean Leahy after the cattle sale had ended, and asked him about the trade on Tuesday, and also about the year gone by.
No Breed Sex Weight €
2 Hr steers 527kg 975
1 Lm heifer 568kg 1130
1 Hr heifer 556kg 1075
1 Fr heifer 520kg 890
1 Hr heifer 532kg 1060
1 Fr cow 596kg 670
1 Fr cow 622kg 660
“We had a good number of cattle here today. A nice few bullocks and heifers and a good supply of dry cows. And as you saw yourself, the trade was very lively as we begin the new year,” Sean said.
“Looking back to last year,” Sean added, “2015 could only be described as a very positive year in the mart.
Numbers of stock were up and good prices were maintained throughout the year. Store cattle in general here for 2015 were up €120 a head on 2014 prices.”
Finally this week, we go to Kanturk mart, where on Tuesday evening, mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe gave us this report following a day of cattle trading.
“We had our first sale of 2016 today and hit the ground running, with over 100 cattle on offer. With the first calves of the year on offer, we also had dairy stock along with our usual offerings. Buyers were plentiful, with the ring full at all times.”
No Breed Sex Weight €
2 Lm steers 650kg 1140
4 BB steers 580kg 1080
2 Lm steers 517kg 1040
4 Fr steers 560kg 1020
1 AA steer 695kg 990
1 AA heifer 770kg 1390
1 Fr cow 685kg 830
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