Change in weather and dwindling grass bring cattle into the livestock marts

“You need to see those exporters’ hands waving when your weanling enters the ring,” said ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher last Saturday in Macroom, as we looked over a pen of weanlings.

Macroom mart held its second annual weanling show and sale on Saturday and Dermot, never a man to mince his words, was keen to highlight that suckler farmers must breed the best, if they are to survive in the suckling game.

“The suckler man should be aiming for a U3 animal, that should be his goal. Something to make exporters interested, otherwise he may as well pack his bags and go on the dole.”

Suckler farmers are of course under pressure at the moment, with Dermot pointing out the position as it stands.

“Teagasc will tell you that we should be getting €5/kg for the finished animal to make our business pay, and what are we getting? Right now its €3.60/kg.”

And with Dermot calling for suckler farmers to improve their breeding, he certainly wouldn’t have been disappointed with the weanling stock on show in Macroom on Saturday.

It was a bit like “The wedding feast of Cana’ in Macroom, with some smashing weanlings appearing late in the season.

Macroom mart manager John O’Mahony was pleased with the turnout, and after the sale, I spoke to him.

“We had a great summer and it’s showing in the stock. Today we have shippers and farmers fighting for weanlings. We had a full clearance.

“Overall really, the trade is going well.”

And in Macroom on Saturday the champion weanling bull was a Charolais owned by Tim O’Donovan of Dunmanway. He weighed 450kg and was purchased by Pat Kelleher, Macroom for €1,400.



No Breed Sex Weight €

8 Fr steers 515kg 860

1 AA stee r 480 kg 1010

2 Hr steers 430kg 880

1 Ch steer 440kg 1070

1 Lm heifer 545kg 1140

3 AA heifers 505kg 1045

1 Sim cow 605 kg 1150

Next we move to Bandon mart on Monday, where mart manager Tom McCarthy told me that there was a very good trade for all types of dry cows, making from €1/kg to €410 with the kilo. Heifers in Bandon sold from €260 to 600 with their weight.

In Bandon continental bullocks sold from €380 to 650 over the kilo. Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks ranged in price from €350 to 655 with the kilo. Friesian bullocks sold from €150 to 560 with the kilo.



No Breed Sex Weight €

4 BB steers 548kg 1140

3 Lm steers 345kg 835

6 AA steers 485kg 990

10 Fr steers 422kg 640

1 Ch heifer 530kg 1110

3 Hr heifers 385kg 770

1 Fr cow 690kg 1090

Moving on to Dungarvan mart on Monday, mart manager Ger Flynn had this to report. “We had a big sale with prices holding well for all types of stores.”



No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Lm steer 655kg 1380

8 Ch steers 613kg 1270

1 BB steer 635kg 1265

1 BB heifer 500kg 1010

1 Lm heifer 470kg 1010

4 Ch heifers 523kg 960

1 Sim cow 700kg 1140

This week, as you might expect, there was another big whopper of a livestock sale in Kilmallock.

The mart had 1,477 cattle on offer, with 327 buyers from all corners of the country competing for stock.

Bullocks made up to €2.43/kg. Heifers hit a high of €3.11/kg. Dry cows sold for up to €1.71/kg.

Looking at dairy stock in Kilmallock, a 4 year old calved Friesian cow sold for €1180 while a 3 year old calved cow made €850.

In suckling a 5 year old Shorthorn and her Limousin heifer calf sold for €1390. A 5 year old Charolais and her Charolais bull calf made €1380.

For a change, I’m going green this week, with a look at Saturday’s organic sale in Kilmallock. Who knows, we might become converts.

Kilmallock mart had an entry of 250 cattle at the autumn organic sale last Saturday, with Denis Kirby reporting that prices were up €200 a head when compared with the same sale last year.

Females made up to €3.60/kg. Males made up to €3.72/kg. Kilmallock mart’s next organic sale will be held in late March, 2015.

Kilmallock (organic)


No Breed Sex Weight €

1 AA steer 715kg 1560

3 Hr steers 467kg 1140

1 Lm steer 355kg 930

3 Ch steers 187kg 670

1 Lm heifer 655kg 1330

2 Ch heifers 218kg 725

1 AA heifer 220kg 710

I could be wrong with this next statement, (hard as it is to believe: I don’t get everything right all the time), but I get the sense this week that the mart trade has plateaued.

Over the past few weeks, I had noticed a drive in the trade, a drive fuelled by God knows what.

For instance, only a short while back, I had a report from Bandon showing 10 Friesian store bullocks weighing 495kg and selling for €910.

I didn’t know these Friesians personally, but unless they had rear ends like Kim Kardashian, it was a mighty sum to pay for your Friesian store.

This week, sanity seems to have reappeared. The foot, to some degree, has come off the gas.

October would traditionally be a busy month for marts, and with a change in the weather and grass supplies dwindling fast, more cattle are appearing in the marts. This perhaps might be the reason for calmer heads.

I mightn’t know much, but the way I see it, there is no point in going bananas for stores, if the meat factory is only offering peanuts for beef.

Anyway, back we go to the marts, and to George Candler and his impressive mart in Kilkenny.

I visited there a few weeks back and whatever about the trade, the mart has one hell of a fine restaurant. You’d call to the mart for the food alone.

This week George had plenty visitors from afar, these visitors took the shape of Northern Ireland buyers, and they helped buoy up the trade.

“We had a good yard of quality stock on offer on Thursday, George explained, “with a marked increase in price for quality in spec beef bullocks. Forward store and quality light stores were also selling well.”

“There was a good heifer trade with a 100% clearance.”

Friesian cull cows in Kilkenny sold from €1.10/kg to €1.65/kg, with continental cull cows selling from €1.35/kg to €2.05/kg.



No Breed Sex Weight €

4 AA steers 365kg 770

2 Hr steers 660kg 1340

4 Lm steers 475kg 1070

10 Sim steers 395kg 960

10 AA heifers 380kg 830

1 Hr heifer 800kg 1410

3 Lm heifer 460kg 1100

“We had a very large sale of bullocks today, with prices marginally improved on last week’s improved trade,” said mart manager Sean Leahy after Tuesday’s cattle sale in Corrin.

Store bullocks in Corrin sold from €130 to 430 over the kilo, with forward stores making up to €590 over the kilo. Beef bullocks in Corrin sold up to €700 with the kilo.

Sean also reported a lively trade for heifers and a strong trade for dry cows.

Heifers in Corrin made from €180 to €530 with their weight, with butchers heifers making up to €670 over the kilo.



No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Lm steer 668kg 1375

8 Hr steers 489kg 930

5 Sim steers 655kg 1290

2 AA steers 497kg 960

10 Hr steers 470kg 945

1 Lm heifer 506kg 1175

1 Fr cow 790kg 1380

Next, we turn to Thurles mart on Monday, where mart manager Martin Ryan said, “Overall, we had a great trade. We had some bucket-fed Friesian weanlings that went very well.”

And indeed they did. One lot of four Friesian bulls weighing 287kg made €490, while another weighing 199kg made €380.

“Good heifers that can be finished within spec were a roaring trade, and you could say the same for the quality steers,” Martin said.

“Cattle are weighing remarkably well and a noticeable feature of yesterday’s sale was the number of 2013 cattle over 600kgs.”



No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Ch steers 485kg 1145

8 Hr steers 438kg 905

5 Lm steers 473kg 980

4 Fr steers 440kg 730

4 AA heifers 395kg 805

3 Lm heifers 531kg 1170

1 Hr cow 575kg 790

And finally this week we turn to Kanturk mart, where as always, Michael Scanlon was on hand to report on the action.

“We had a very big sale of cattle at today’s sale. A large number of weanlings met with a lively trade.

“Forward store cattle were in great demand with prices maintained on last weeks increase.

“Good quality stores made up to €500 over the kilo.”


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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