Cattle mart report: Calves and quality bulls bounce back as spring brings a timely boost to cattle marts

I’m as busy as a block layer on the Mexican border this week. I’m buying calves like there is no tomorrow, my hands are flying.

My work has finally kicked off. And in such a circumstance, you’d think that I’d be pouring cold water on the calf market, trying to suggest that the arse has fallen out of the trade — in order to get a cheap calf for myself.

Well, no, I won’t be doing that. Because I’m the most honest man in the mart reporting game, I feel duty bound to tell the honest truth at every given opportunity, no matter how damaging it might be for me personally. And the truth this week is that the calf trade has bounced back.

Last week’s drop of €40 a head on the Friesian bull looks to have been nothing more than a blip. The Friesian bull has recovered (much to my disappointment), he was back making €100 to €220 in Bandon mart on Monday.

Mart manager Tom McCarthy reported that the sale was the “best calf sale of the year so far.”

And in Bandon on Monday dry cows sold from €100 under to €550 with the kilo. Continental bullocks sold from €400 to €600 with the weight. Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks sold from €300 to €700 with the kilo. 

Friesian bullocks sold from €200 to €450 with the kilo. Heifers in Bandon made from €250 to €570 with the kilo.



No Breed Sex Weight €

4 Ch steers 330kg 810

3 Sim steers 301kg 705

4 Hr steers 550kg 1100

4 Fr steers 373kg 615

1 Sim heifer 540kg 1110

1 Lm cow 695kg 1260

1 Fr cow 775kg 1135

Next we move to Thurles. Earlier this week I spoke to Thurles mart manager Martin Ryan about the trade.

“On Monday in Thurles we had an entry of 32 pens of bullocks, 10 pens of heifers and 12 pens of cull cows, with an overall clearance rate of 89%,” said Martin. “Numbers have been sluggish to increase, although this seems to be in line with national trends at the moment.

“Overall the store trade is relatively strong when we consider the current beef prices at the factory gates. Most surprising seems to be the supply and the demand for Friesian/dairy type weanlings, which saw an average price of €1.84/kg paid here on Monday (the top price paid in Thurles was €2.16/kg).

“There is also a good trade for Friesian store cattle. Friesian store bullocks averaged €1.70/kg, Aberdeen Angus €1.95 and continental stores averaged €2.10. It is important to note when looking at the price that almost all continental cattle sold here on Monday were from dairy herds.

“The strong trade and high input prices are making the margins smaller for the finisher, again adding to the woes of the finishers. The trade seems to be largely driven by the small numbers of forward store cattle coming out. The majority of buyers are full time farmers or finishers, with a growing presence of the feedlots. The part time farmer does not seem to be very active at the moment, seemingly opting to buy closer to turnout.

“Looking at the calf trade, initial trends indicate the same calf buyers, as in previous years, to be actively buying, with the addition of former store buyers opting for calf rearing this year.

“The dry cow trade has got off to a good start, with a large number of cows coming through our mart. The large number seems to be driven by a number of farmers milking through November and December, with the increased milk prices. The body condition score of the cows coming through the mart has been far superior this month, in contrast with December.”

The average price paid for Friesian cull cows in Thurles on Monday was €1.20/kg, with factory fit Friesian cows reaching €1.45/kg.



No Breed Sex Weight €

5 AA steers 460kg 900

4 Fr steers 392kg 690

2 Sim steers 482kg 1065

10 Sim steers 519kg 1060

5 AA heifers 232kg 550

3 Lm heifers 276kg 560

1 Sim cow 825kg 1390

Kanturk mart had 432 cattle on offer on Tuesday. And Kanturk mart sold 432 cattle on Tuesday, in a 100% clearance, with mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe mentioning “demand here in Kanturk far exceeded supply.”

Last Saturday, a clearance sale of 57 cows and calved heifers at Kanturk mart resulted in young dairy cows (calving in February) making up to €1,600. Calved heifers made up to €1,440.

This Saturday, February 4th, sees a further clearance sale taking place at Kanturk mart.



No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Hr steers 532kg 1080

3 Fr steers 598kg 1020

4 AA steers 552kg 1075

4 Fr steers 298kg 500

1 AA heifer 540kg 1030

1 AA heifer 356kg 715

1 AA heifer 442kg 860

Dungarvan mart manager Ger Flynn gave us the following report after Monday’s cattle sale. “We had a good demand for forward store bullocks and heavy dry cows. There has been a big increase in cattle and calf numbers overall.”



No Breed Sex Weight €

6 Fr steers 625kg 1170

1 AA steer 595kg 1065

3 Fr steers 505kg 890

1 Fr heifer 550kg 1020

1 Sim cow 780kg 1175

1 Fr cow 780kg 1125

1 Fr cow 695kg 1060

In Corrin on Tuesday, store bullocks made from €130 to €420 with their weight, with beef bullocks making up to €625 with the kilo.

Mart manager Sean Leahy reported “a stronger trade for bullocks, with an excellent demand for quality types”. And the dry cow trade didn’t disappoint either, with Sean reporting a “strong trade for all cow types.”

In Corrin on Tuesday store heifers sold from €280 to €380 with the weight, with butcher types making up to €645 with the kilo.



No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Lm steers 550kg 1145

5 Fr steers 587kg 1030

2 AA heifers 570kg 1090

3 Hr heifers 400kg 780

1 BB heifer 495kg 1140

1 Sh cow 1030kg 1890

1 Fr cow 620kg 1070

The report from Denis Kirby of Kilmallock mart was that “sellers went home very happy” after Monday’s cattle sale.

“Lighter cattle sold particular well here on Monday”, said Denis.

In Kilmallock, bullocks sold for up to €2.23 per kg. Weanlings bulls hit a high of €3.17 per kg. Weanling heifers went to €2.64 per kg. Dry cows (Kilmallock had 190 on offer) sold for up to €1.68 per kg.

Calves (Kilmallock had 150 calves on offer) were “selling for remarkable prices”, Denis said. Beef breeds made up to €520 a head, with Friesian bulls hitting a high of €215. There were 44 buyers in the calf ring, some from Tyrone, Laois, Sligo and Galway.

On Monday next, February 6, the calf sale in Kilmallock will commence at 10.30am.

Also this Monday, there will be a clearance sale of 30 dairy cows and seven in-calf heifers. This sale begins at 11am.



No Breed Sex Weight €

3 Hr steers 392kg 845

2 Lm steers 515kg 1150

2 Hr heifers 480kg 915

2 AA heifers 483kg 935

1 Lm heifer 440kg 1130

1 Fr cow 715kg 1000

1 Fr cow 440kg 650

In Macroom mart on Saturday last, dry cows sold from €145 under to €745 over the kilo. Continental bullocks made from €300 to €630 over the kilo.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €245 to €575 over their weight. Heifers sold from €240 to €680 over their weight.



No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Sim steer 485kg 1115

5 Lm steers 430kg 950

1 Lm heifer 540kg 1220

4 Sim heifers 450kg 990

2 Lm heifers 330kg 925

1 Ch cow 755kg 1500

1 Lm cow 640kg 1050

Finally for this week, we go to Castleisland mart in Kerry, and to Monday’s calf and weanling sale.

Mart manager David White reported: “A great sale today for calves and weanlings, which was supported by great quality. Examples of some good calves sold here were a Simmental bull selling for €415, a Friesian bull selling for €145, and an Aberdeen Angus heifer calf selling for €370.

“All were born in 2017.”


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