Steady as she goes in the mart trade with none of the feared icebergs in sight yet

I’m not sure if it was thoughts of a lovely dinner, or of checking out the cattle trade, that had me travelling to Skibbereen mart on Friday.

Man, after all, doesn’t live on marts alone, and in fairness to the staff in the kitchen there, they can serve up a lovely dinner. It went down a treat. I cleaned my plate.

On the roads, Friday was an icy affair. So tackling onto a cattle box was done only by the very brave indeed.

In spite of such problems, Skibbereen mart had a nice scattering of cattle, with the trade holding firm.

The only slippage in Skibbereen on Friday was to be found on the roads.Dry cows sold from €20 to €465 with the kilo. Bullocks sold from €250 to €550 with the kilo. Heifers ranged in price from €310 to €600 with the kilo.

Skibbereen

Friday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Lm steer 360kg 850

1 Ch steer 335kg 855

1 Hr steer 465kg 850

1 Ch steer 475kg 980

3 Lm heifers 200kg 560

1 Ch heifer 260kg 670

1 Fr cow 755kg 1060

In Bandon on Monday, dry cows made from €50 to €410 with the kilo. Bullocks sold from €250 to €700 with the kilo. Heifers made from €390 to €520 with the kilo. Bandon had 300 calves on offer. The trade for them was very strong.

Mart manager Tom McCarthy had some sound advice for those selling stock over the coming months.

Bandon

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

3 Ch steers 505kg 1130

6 Sim steers 296kg 805

4 Hr steers 516kg 1045

8 Fr steers 500kg 810

3 Hr heifers 451kg 910

1 AA heifer 520kg 1040

1 Fr cow 770kg 1180

“Farmers selling cattle will often talk about looking for this amount or that, because they heard it was a price a similar breed of animal had made at the mart.

“Well I think before a farmer chooses a selling price for an animal, regardless of where he sells it, he should come to a mart first and have a good look at the trade.

“It’s one thing to hear a price or read a price quoted, it’s another matter to see the animal in the flesh. Quality can differ, cattle can differ, only by going to a mart will you get the full picture. Even if it’s just for an hour, I feel it would be time well spent.”

Next we go to Dungarvan Mart, also held on Monday, and to mart manager Ger Flynn. “We had a good lively trade for forward store cows and quality continental store heifers. The bullock trade is holding well also.”

Dungarvan

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Hr steer 630kg 1180

6 Lm steers 523kg 1075

5 Hr steers 418g 905

2 AA heifers 607kg 1195

2 AA heifers 560kg 1075

1 Lm cow 700kg 1130

1 Fr cow 730kg 1075

“2016 has got off to a flying cattle trade here in Kilmallock,” said Denis Kirby after Monday’s cattle sale.

“We had buyers from Northern Ireland and all parts of the Republic, who were very keen to buy cattle and calves.”

Kilmallock had just over 600 stock on offer. Bullocks sold for up to €2.50 per kg. Dry cows (120 on offer) went to a high of €1.79 per kg. Heifers sold for up to €2.45 per kg. Weanling bulls reached €3.50 per kg.

Denis also reported “unreal” demand for dairy stock, with up to €1,450 changing hands (paid for a 4-year-old in-calf cow, time up to Friesian or Aberdeen Angus).

The calf ring, Denis told me, was “as ever packed with buyers from all over the country and whether it was a Charolais bull or Friesian bull, there was keen demand for all.” Young beef calves made up to €600 a head in Kilmallock, while some Friesian bulls went over €200 each.

Next Monday, January 25, a clearance sale of 45 dairy cows and 10 in-calf heifers takes place in Kilmallock, this sale begins at 12 noon.

Kilmallock

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

4 Lm steers 315kg 785

4 AA steers 315kg 760

1 Fr steer 360kg 665

4 Ch steers 528kg 1150

1 Sim heifer 475kg 960

1 AA heifer 495kg 1015

1 Fr cow 450kg 790

With the death of Eagles frontman Glenn Frey at the beginning of the week, you’d have to wonder will there be any guitar heros left at all by the end of the year.

It just goes to show that a life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll can have a fellow heading for the old sod at an early age.

Isn’t it lucky then that for us in the beef business we can ill afford such a wild life.

Our only high comes in December when we receive our Basic Farm Payment. No wonder that so many of us in farming live to a ripe old age.

However, this farming life of ours is not without its stresses and worries. Chief amongst them at the moment is a concern about our beef and cattle markets for 2016.

With numbers reported to be up, both on the ground and heading towards the factory gate, concerns exist about the impact this increase in numbers will have on price.

How will all this play out for the year ahead? Nobody knows. The people who think they know don’t know.

The only thing I know is that panic in the beef industry is about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. We need calm in this business, not chaos.

Looking at the mart trade for the past week, it is really a case of steady as she goes. There are no icebergs on the horizon. So let’s not be getting hot and bothered about prices that have yet to be revealed. 2016 is only just beginning.

In the words of the late great Glenn Frey, “Take it Easy.”

Thurles

Monday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Fr steer 450kg 820

3 Hr steers 285kg 705

3 Lm steers 541kg 1150

2 Ch heifers 340kg 890

4 AA heifers 292kg 675

2 Ch heifers 455kg 1010

1 Fr cow 668kg 1020

Keeping in a positive ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’, we go next to Thurles and to mart manager Martin Ryan, who gave us this report after Monday’s cattle sale. “Overall, numbers are starting to rise, with excellent prices achieved for light stores and cull cows”.

Corrin mart on Tuesday had 500 cattle on offer, with mart manager Sean Leahy reporting a “good steady trade for bullocks, with prices improved on last week.” Sean also reported an excellent trade for heifers.

In Corrin, store bullocks sold from €200 to €470 over the kilo, and forward bullocks made up to €600 with their weight. Store heifers in Corrin made from €280 to €500 over, with butcher types making up to €835 with the kilo.

Corrin had a large entry of dry cows with Sean Leahy reporting “a very lively trade” dry cows sold from €550 to €1,180 a head.

Corrin

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 AA steer 610kg 1270

1 Hr steer 475kg 1010

8 AA steers 310kg 700

1 Lm heifer 670kg 1505

1 BB heifer 380kg 910

1 Fr cow 825kg 1180

1 Lm cow 690kg 1150

“We had a similar size sale here to last week, with a good trade all round,” was the report we received from Macroom mart manager John O’Mahony after Saturday’s cattle sale. Dry cows sold from €80 to €280 over the kilo. Bullocks sold from €205 to €625 over the kilo. Heifers in Macroom sold from €230 to €565 over their weight.

Macroom

Saturday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Ch steer 480kg 1105

2 Ch steers 325kg 870

2 Hr steers 345kg 750

4 AA steers 260kg 650

3 Lm heifers 575kg 1140

3 Lm heifers 360kg 870

1 Fr cow 745kg 1020

Finally this week, we go to Kanturk mart, where mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe gave us this round-up after Tuesday’s cattle sale. “We had a big sale for January, with 320 animals, including 30 calves, on offer. There were plenty of customers looking for stock, with dry cows and lighter cattle in huge demand.

“Our first dairy sale for 2016 takes place this Saturday at 1pm with a special entry of 15 three year old top class heifers. These are mostly calved with the rest on the point of calving and some are pedigree registered.”

Kanturk

Tuesday

No Breed Sex Weight €

1 Hr steer 530kg 1095

1 Fr steer 472kg 840

1 Lm steer 468kg 1060

1 BB steer 470kg 1000

1 Hr heifer 440kg 895

1 AA heifer 250kg 585

1 Fr cow 815kg 1230


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