Traditionally, May can be a quiet time of the year when it comes to weanling sales, but Gortatlea Mart bucked the trend with 630 weanlings on offer at its special E and U grade weanling bull sale at the Kerry venue on Wednesday evening.

The Charolais and Limousin breeds provided the backbone of what was on offer and about three-quarters of the cattle weighed between 300kg and 400kg.

Exporters and farmers were anxious for cattle and at the upper end of the conformation scale, exporters proved to be the main outlet for heavier well-muscled weanlings. The bulk of these were Belgian Blue-crosses and prices for them ranged from €3.80/kg to €4.20/kg.

Farmer buyers on the lookout for good-quality bulls targeted U and R grading bulls weighing from 350kg to 450kg and these sold from €3.30/kg to €3.70/kg. For plainer lots, the price ranged from €2.80/kg to €3.20/kg.

Good turnout

Normally a quiet time of year for weanlings, the turnout was better than expected and mart manager Maurice Brosnan was happy with proceedings.

“We had similar numbers at the same sale last year, but we’re probably up about 20 head this time. Online buyers were very active and trade was lively across the different weights.

"We had a few lighter bulls around 270kg or 280kg and they were making €1,100 and for the heavier bulls then, you’re looking at around €3/kg for the R grades and €3.80/kg to €4.20/kg for the E grades.

"It’s good to see those who put the effort and time into their cattle get rewarded.”

Contracting suckler herd

While suckler numbers in Kerry have remained relatively stable, Brosnan expressed concern at how the suckler herd has contracted in recent years and felt suckler schemes were dictating too much around breeding.

“There was one man who had super Charolais weanlings that averaged €3.80/kg this week and that’s the last bunch of calves he’ll be selling because the cows will be for sale here next week. It’s disappointing to see it.

"Forget about the four and five stars and all the red tape, pay a decent subsidy and let people produce what they want. It doesn’t matter if that is from a continental cow or a dairy-cross - whether suits their situation on farm.”