There were over 400 calves on offer at the calf sale in Cashel Mart on Saturday and trade was steady, with buyers willing to pay a bit more for a stronger calf.

The lighter shipping-type Friesian bull calf sold for between €10 and €65. For those staying on the home market, mainly Friesian bulls over one month old, prices ranged from €90 to €120.

Although small in number, continentals had a firm grip at the upper end of trade, with a pair of Charolais bulls selling for €400 and up to €300 paid for continental heifers.

Between €250 and €270 was paid for the top end of Hereford calves, with Angus achieving a little more, with a top price of €300. Those prices were mainly for strong calves over 30 days old.

Younger beef-crosses, both traditional and continental breed calves from Friesian dams and aged between two and three weeks old, generally sold for between €120 and €175. Smaller calves or those with Jersey genetics on the cow side struggled to get out of double digits and sold from €80 back to €10.

'Decent numbers'

Just like every other mart, Cashel has seen calves much slower to come out this spring.

Speaking after the sale, mart manager Alison De Vere Hunt said: “Spring so far hasn’t been so bad. Numbers have been decent, but calves were slower coming out to the mart this spring.

“I was speaking to a few farmers recently and they’re not finished calving yet, so we could see calf trade go a bit later into May this year or we could have a strong April.

“Calf quality is gone down a bit though. It’s just like in the suckler trade now - when a quality calf comes into the ring, farmers are willing to pay for it.”

Despite the current weather conditions, trade in Cashel has been holding firm over the past few weeks.

“Stronger calves that are well done are always a good trade, the good Friesian will sell no problem. Farmers are looking for a better-quality calf.

“There is a lot of focus on the dam, with buyers very fixed on purchasing calves for FR dams. The JEX dam is proving to be a tougher sell, but they are being sold.”

Exporters are buying ringside, but Alison has noticed that farmer activity for calves has been back compared with other years.

“Farmer buyers have been very active for older cattle this year, but they don’t seem to be as strong as they were for calves this year.

“A good share of them are part-time and with costs where they were last year, they probably feel they weren’t being rewarded enough for their work, so they aren’t inclined to buy calves this spring. Costs have come back a little for milk replacer, but with straw almost as valuable as gold instead.”

In pictures

These five-week-old Angus-cross heifers sold for €190.

These one-month-old Hereford-cross bulls sold for €42.

These two-week-old Hereford-cross heifers sold for €95.

This one-month-old Angus-cross bull calf sold for €110.

These three-week-old Hereford-cross heifers sold for €24.

These five-week-old Belgian blue-cross heifers sold for €155.

These three-week-old Hereford-cross bulls sold for €100.

These three-week-old Hereford-cross bulls sold for €245.

This two-week-old Limousin-cross heifer calf sold for €130.

This three-week-old Limousin-cross heifer calf sold for €145.

This six-week-old Angus-cross bull sold for €185.

These five-week-old Charolais-cross bulls sold for €400.