‘It’s at the factory gate this spring that the mart’s fate for 2016 will be decided’

I spent last weekend piking out calf houses.

Sadly, in this beef business, for every successful Larry Goodman, there are thousands of us who will never progress beyond the humble pike.

The labourers are many, the barons are few.

I met a man over Christmas now happily involved in the pub trade, who once upon a time was a beef farmer.

“I got out,” he told me, “before I went broke.

“Most fellows in beef go broke at least once in their lifetime,” he said, “I gave up before that happened to me.”

And with that sobering thought from my friend behind the counter, we begin our look at the mart trade for this week.

In Macroom mart on Saturday, there didn’t seem to be too many broke cattlemen at the ringside, as the mart saw a very healthy dry cow sale.

Macroom had 70 dry cows on offer, including a nice selection of young cows.

Dry cows sold from €65 under to €475 over the kilo.

Bullocks sold from €185 to €525 over the kilo. Heifers sold from €215 to €515 over their weight.

‘It’s at the factory gate this spring that the mart’s fate for 2016 will be decided’

Macroom

Saturday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 AA steer 490kg 1000

2 Ch steers 275kg 770

6 Hr steers 265kg 620

1 Ch heifer 335kg 850

1 Ch heifer 275kg 755

1 Lm cow 815kg 1290

1 Fr cow 575kg 880

After the sale, mart manager John O’Mahony said, “We had a good sale of cattle here for our first sale of the year, with good prices across the board and plenty of buyers at the ringside.”

Next Saturday sees Macroom mart’s first dairy clearance sale of the year, with 20 well-bred dairy cows on offer from a local farmer.

Monday may have been all about “The man who sold the world,” David Bowie, but I was more interested in the man who sold four Jersey bull calves in Bandon.

The first Jersey bulls of the year sold for €38 a piece.

It was big money, I felt.

And I was right to have such a view on the purchase price, as I was the fellow who purchased them.

I bought the Jerseys because I liked the look of them.

Like David Bowie himself, I have strange tastes.

I bought a few Friesian bull calves also on Monday, just to put a bit of respectability on my mart invoice.

But back to the Jersey, I feel there is nothing like a few Jersey bulls on the farm to keep a fellow grounded.

The head can never swell too much, I reckon, when you have a few Jersey bullocks lurking somewhere in the bushes.

In the calf trade at Bandon on Monday, the mart had 210 on offer, with calf prices starting strong for 2016.

Bandon had 100 dry cows and, like Macroom, the trade for feeding cows was very good.

Heifers in Bandon made from €330 to €600 with the kilo.

Friesian bullocks sold from €220 to €540 with the kilo.

Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks ranged in price from €350 to €700 with the kilo.

Bandon

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

2 Ch steers 552kg 1190

1 Hr steer 545kg 1100

1 AA steer 800kg 1490

10 Fr steers 482kg 800

2 AA heifers 602kg 1210

1 Ch cow 635kg 1120

1 Fr cow 880kg 1400

Next we go to Dungarvan Mart and to mart manager Ger Flynn.

“We had a good trade to start 2016 here, with all types of stores in demand. We had plenty of buyers in attendance.”

Dungarvan

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 BB steer 615kg 1310

6 Lm steers 523kg 1075

5 Hr steers 418kg 905

2 AA heifers 607kg 1195

2 AA heifers 560kg 1075

1 Fr cow 710kg 1120

1 Fr cow 690kg 1090

Corrin Mart on Tuesday had 450 cattle on offer, with mart manager Sean Leahy reporting a “steady trade for bullocks” and a “good trade for heifers”.

Store bullocks sold from €150 to €475 over the kilo, with forward bullocks making up to €660 with their weight.

Store heifers in Corrin made from €200 to €400 over, with butcher types making up to €620 with the kilo.

Dry cows sold from €450 to €1,190 a head.

Corrin

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

4 AA steers 570kg 1140

4 Ch steers 528kg 1180

4 Fr steers 700kg 1170

1 Ch heifer 565kg 1180

4 BB heifers 250kg 650

1 AA heifer 515kg 1180

1 Lm cow 685kg 1190

Looking at the mart trade overall this week, dry cows are leading the charge, it seems.

However, the trade for store cattle, particularly plain stores, has started sluggishly enough.

But this isn’t too surprising after nothing but floods and rain for the past two months, followed by a cold snap which given cattle an appetite for silage.

Any silage that wasn’t washed away in the floods is being eaten with gusto.

So it can be hard to click your heels like Dick van Dyke and merrily trot off to the mart to buy plain store bullocks.

It’s a lot easier to buy cattle when the sun is shining and your farm isn’t being washed out to sea.

After splashing out serious money on stock over the past 12 months, beef finishers will need to see a good return from the factory this spring, in order to have the confidence to drive on once more.

It’s at the factory gate this spring that the mart’s fate for 2016 will be decided.

Next, Thurles mart, and mart manager Martin Ryan who gave us this report after Monday’s cattle sale.

“Overall numbers were relatively lower than expected on Monday, with some of the stock reflecting the weather conditions since our last sale of 2015.

"Most of the stock out were younger and lighter than usual.

“The best trade was for cull cows and they sold exceptionally well.”

Thurles

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

3 Fr steers 545kg 955

2 AA steers 507kg 1010

2 Lm steers 570kg 1245

2 AA heifers 247kg 580

2 Ch heifers 455kg 1000

6 Lm heifers 285kg 700

1 Ch heifer 490kg 1210

Denis Kirby reported a “very strong cattle and calf trade” at Kilmallock mart on Monday last.

The mart saw a turnout of 400 stock, including 60 calves and 60 dry cows.

Bullocks sold for up to €2.24 per kg.

Dry cows hit €1.98 per kg. While heifers went to a high of €2.59 per kg.

Dairy stock went to a high of €1,280 (paid for a 3-year-old calved heifer).

In the suckler trade, a 4-year-old Hereford in calf to a Limousin sold for €1,130.

A 2 ½-year-old Aberdeen Angus in calf to a Limousin made €1,060.

Kilmallock

Monday

5 AA steers 364kg 815

3 Fr steers 330kg 645

2 Hr steers 448kg 900

3 Hr steers 580kg 1120

1 Hr heifer 490kg 975

1 AA heifer 415kg 855

1 Fr cow 425kg 555

Finally for this week, mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe summed up after Tuesday’s Kanturk mart cattle sale.

“Our sales are starting to get bigger, with cattle and calves in good demand and making great prices.”

Kanturk

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 AA steer 575kg 1190

1 Lm steer 505kg 1145

1 Fr steer 645kg 1120

6 Hr steers 576kg 1055

1 AA heifer 655kg 1190

1 Hr Heifer 610kg 1160

11 Fr Heifers 635kg 800


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