Cattle marts report: Cattle are selling well despite grass and money drying up in farming circles

Thank God summer has finally arrived. I thought for a while that it would never get here. But it has.

May has come, and May is a time for the silage harvester and the round baler.

A time for happy farmers and revved-up silage contractors. A time for mowers to dig deep into thick lush green swards of grass.

A time for the farmer to grab a fistful of the marvellous stuff, before examining and sniffing it for volume, texture and fragrance.

Happy days indeed.

But hold on a minute... where’s the thick lush May grass for the mower to dig into, and the silage harvester to swallow up?

Where’s the revved-up contractor and the happy farmer?

Something has gone terribly wrong this year, and that something has been grass growth.

Sadly, grass growth this year is progressing almost as slowly as the talks on government formation.

I met auctioneer Jerh O’Sullivan of Cork Marts after he had finished selling dry cows and bullocks in Macroom on Saturday.

Jerh is also involved in land leasing with Cork Marts, and has been busy since the beginning of 2016 letting over 1,800 acres of ground, mostly for five-year leases.

But on Saturday I was more interested in talking about silage, or more specifically, talking about the lack of it.

Presuming that there will be a shortage of silage on the ground this summer, I asked Jerh has he many farmers on his books looking to take silage ground.

“The problem this year,” Jerh explained, “does not surround the availability of ground for silage, the problem is the availability of money.”

“Farmers, particularly dairy farmers, at this stage are really under a lot of financial pressure. It’s a worrying time for many.

“And yes, silage ground would be moving if the money was there to make the deal.

“But on a lot of farms right now, it’s more about going from day to day rather than planning too far ahead.”

“Cattle are selling well and that is good to see, but beyond the cattle trade, there is very little money out there in farming circles right now.”

And on that note, we head straight for the cattle sale in Macroom on Saturday, a day when the seller once again had the upper hand, with demand high amongst buyers to secure stock.

Mart manager John O’Mahony gave me the following report, once the cattle sale had concluded.

“We had a good sized sale of cattle here today with a good trade for all types of stock across the board.”

On Saturday in Macroom, dry cows sold from €30 under to €595 over the kilo. Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €235 to €665 over the kilo, with continental bullocks selling from €240 to €730 over their weight.

Heifers in Macroom on Saturday sold from €230 to €745 with the kilo.

Macroom

Saturday

No Breed Sex Weight €

4 Hr steers 440kg 1045

5 AA steers 645kg 1310

2 Ch steers 560kg 1290

2 Ch heifers 545kg 1290

4 Lm heifers 355kg 920

1 Sa cow 785kg 1380

1 Fr cow 760kg 1155

Corrin mart on Tuesday had 1,300 cattle and calves on offer, with mart manager,Sean Leahy, reporting “a very strong trade for dry cows and heifers.”

However, it was in the bullock trade that the biggest improvement came, with Sean reporting, “an exceptional trade for bullocks. The trade for bullocks vastly improved on last week.”

In Corrin on Tuesday, store bullocks sold from €200 to €730 over the kilo, with beef bullocks making up to €690 over the kilo. On Tuesday, store heifers sold from €250 to €580 over the kilo, with butcher types making up to €835 over the kilo. Dry cows here made from €500 to €1230 a head.

Corrin

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

4 BB steers 670kg 1360

2 Ch steers 590kg 1335

3 AA steers 500kg 1105

2 Lm steers 375kg 1105

1 BB heifer 565kg 1300

3 Hr heifers 600kg 1260

1 AA cow 685kg 1230

The promise of a warmer weather forecast for the week ahead saw a lift in cattle prices at Kilmallock mart on Monday last, according to Denis Kirby.

Again this week, the mart had over 2,000 stock on offer.

With 387 buyers in attendance at the five ringsides, bullocks in Kilmallock on Monday made up to €2.61 per kg.

Weanlings hit €2.86 per kg. Dry cow prices are very strong with big numbers on offer. Dry cows in Kilmallock sold for up to €2.01 per kg. Heifers went to a high of €2.76 per kg.

Interest in dairy stock has also risen, with Kilmallock having 74 cows and heifers on offer. A top price of €1,340 was paid on Monday, for a two- year-old calved heifer.

Looking at suckler stock, topping the charts in Kilmallock this week was a four-year-old Belgian Blue cow springing to Charolais, and she made €1,400.

Looking at breeding bulls, an Aberdeen Angus sold for €2,400. A Hereford made €2,000 and a Simmental made €1,400. And speaking of bulls, tomorrow Friday, May 6, a bull sale takes place in Kilmallock mart with approximately 60 bulls of all breeds on offer.

Kilmallock

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Hr steers 362kg 850

3 AA steers 357kg 810

7 Lm steers 533kg 1230

4 Fr steers 398kg 760

1 Ch heifer 415kg 1050

1 Lm heifer 430kg 1020

1 Fr cow 465kg 730

Next we turn to Dungarvan mart on Monday and to mart manager Ger Flynn, who gave us the following report.

“We had a large sale here on Monday with prices holding steady all round.”

In Dungarvan, suckler cows, some with calves at foot made from €1,160 to €1,690.

Dungarvan

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Fr steer 780kg 1535

8 Lm steers 543kg 1210

9 Ch steers 547kg 1245

1 BB steer 625kg 1250

4 AA heifers 527kg 1080

1 Ch cow 825kg 1385

1 Fr cow 760kg 1185

Next we head to Kanturk mart and to mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe who gave us the following report after Tuesday’s cattle sale.

“We saw a good trade at ringside today with prices up on last week.”

On Tuesday, Kanturk mart had 1,100 cattle going through the sales rings.

Friesian bullocks here made from €280 to €390 with their weight, with Aberdeen Angus bullocks making up to €400 with their weight.

Hereford bullocks made up to €475 with the kilo.

A final dairy sale of the season at Kanturk mart takes place on this coming Saturday, May 7, beginning at 1pm, with the mart’s second bull sale of the year taking place on May 28. Entry forms for the bull sale are available from the mart office and the closing date for entries is May 11.

Kanturk

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Lm steers 580kg 1230

4 Hr steers 600kg 1190

1 BB steer 490kg 1180

4 Sim steers 550kg 1100

5 Lm heifers 520kg 1035

1 AA heifer 455kg 1030

1 AA cow 685kg 1220

Finally for this week, it’s to Skibbereen we head, where on Friday last, dry cows sold from €50 under to €550 with the kilo. Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks sold from €380 to €700 with the kilo.

In Skibbereen, Friesian bullocks made from €200 to €485 with the weight. Heifers on Friday made from €350 to €640 with the kilo.

Skibbereen

Friday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Fr steers 450kg 935

1 AA steer 610kg 1290

4 Hr steers 375kg 850

2 Ch heifers 330kg 855

1 Lm heifer 540kg 1160

1 Sim cow 740kg 1240

1 Fr cow 885kg 1380


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