The coronavirus pandemic has underpinned a keen interest among younger farmers in particular in breeding top-quality cattle and targeting producing animals with show potential.
This focus was very evident in Gort Mart’s annual spring weanling show and sale of Belgian Blue- and Limousin-sired heifers and bulls.
An entry of close to 400 heifers recorded a strong average price of €3.16/kg, while over 300 bulls sold for an average of €2.87/kg.
Manager Bernie Fahey said the entry of Belgian Blue-sired cattle exceeded expectations.
“We had cattle entered from six counties and significant numbers from counties Tipperary, Mayo and Roscommon, with specialist producers of show- and export-quality cattle viewing the sale as a platform to market their stock to live export buyers and farmers. The high prices for top-quality cull cows is also encouraging farmers to improve breeding in their suckler herd,” she said.
Demand for these show-quality heifers witnessed a handful of heifers weighing 300kg to 400kg exceed the €2,000/ head mark, with three heifers selling in excess of €3,000/head and a top of €3,210, or €8.45/kg for a 380kg Belgian Blue-cross heifer.
Belgian Blue heifers in this category averaged €3.41/kg, while Limousin-sired heifers averaged €3.10/kg and Parthenaise-cross heifers averaged €3.08/kg.
The highest price of €3,320 was paid for a 435kg Belgian Blue-cross heifer, with two Limousin-cross heifers weighing 475kg and 435kg selling for €2,200 and €2,800 respectively.
Belgian Blue-sired heifers in the 400kg to 500kg weight category averaged €3.22/kg, with Limousin heifers averaging €2.88/kg and Limousin-cross heifers €3.24/kg.
Belgian Blue-sired bulls also dominated the top prices in the bull category. Belgian Blue-cross bulls weighing 300kg to 400kg averaged €3.12/kg, while Limousin bulls averaged €2.85/kg.
Blonde d’Aquitaine bulls averaged €2.78/kg and Charolais bulls €2.97/kg. Numbers of these breeds were small, with producers targeting the show and sale of Charolais and other breeds on Thursday 10 March.
Belgian Blue bulls weighing 400kg to 500kg averaged €2.80/kg, while Limousin-sired bulls averaged around the €2.70/kg mark.
The main buyers here were live exporters for the best conformed bulls and specialist bull beef finishers.