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.

Bernie Fahey, newly appointed manager at Gort Mart, Co Galway.

“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.

This 385kg prizewinning Limousin-cross heifer born 16 February 2021 sold for €1,350 (€3.51/kg).

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.

This first prizewinning Belgian Blue-cross heifer weighing 435kg and born 19 March 2021 sold for €3,320 (€7.63/kg).

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.

This 380kg Blonde d'Aquitaine-cross heifer born 10 August 2020 sold for €1,180 (€3.11/kg).

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.

This Belgian Blue-cross heifer weighing 435kg and born 26 May 2020 sold for €1,400 (€3.22/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.

This 335kg Belgian Blue-cross heifer born 20 April 2021 sold for €1,140 (€3.40/kg).

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.

Other lots

This second prizewinning Belgian Blue-cross bull weighing 380kg and born 22 April 2021 sold for €1,500 (€3.95/kg).

This 500kg Belgian Blue-cross bull born 4 March 2021 sold for €1,840 (€3.68/kg).

This heavier 635kg Belgian Blue-cross bull born 4 January 2021 sold for €1,880 (€2.96/kg).

This Limousin-cross bull weighing 455kg and born 2 March 2021 sold for €1,360 (€2.99/kg).

This Belgian Blue-cross bull weighing 530kg and born 17 March 2021 sold for €1,390 (€2.62/kg).

This quality second prizewinning Limousin-cross bull weighing 445kg and born 22 June 2021 sold for €1,460 (€3.28/kg).

This young Belgian Blue-cross bull weighing 375kg and born 21 June 2021 sold for €1,320 (€3.52/kg).

This roan-coloured Belgian Blue-cross bull weighing 400kg and born 31 March 2021 sold for €1,190 (€2.98/kg).

This 425kg Belgian Blue-cross bull born 3 July 2021 sold for €1,400 (€3.29/kg).

This heavier Belgian Blue-cross bull weighing 585kg and born 3 January 2021 sold for €1,600 (€2.74/kg).

This roan-coloured Belgian Blue-cross heifer weighing 470kg and born 1 December 2020 sold for €1,600 (€3.40/kg).

This second prizewinning Limousin-cross heifer weighing 435kg and born 5 May 2021 sold for €2,800 (€6.44/kg).