While grass growth may have dampened the grass cattle trade in the last two weeks, it certainly hasn’t dampened the breeding heifer trade.
There has been exceptional demand since last autumn for breeding heifers, marking a resurge in confidence in the suckler sector.
Carrigallen Mart saw a special heifer entry last week, which attracted big interest.
Bailieboro man Jim Heery and Cornafean man Herbie Griffith held a joint sale of over 70 top-end weanling heifers suitable for breeding.
The sale attracted a number of specialist prime stock producers to source potential breeders.
Once again, it was the Northern Ireland customers that drove the trade, with a number of the high-priced lots heading north to specialist in-calf heifer producers.
Some of these customers are finding it increasingly hard to source that ‘top of the pops’ heifer, so the prospect of having 75 in one place for purchase attracted them to the sale.
Top call went to a super March 2020-born Belgian Blue heifer weighing 485kg and selling for €3,500.
Next-highest call went to a February 2020-born roan heifer weighing €475kg that sold for €2,820. The majority of this special consignment of heifers made €3 to €4/kg for heifers between 300kg and 500kg.
The bull ring was a little easier than recent weeks, with the average 300kg to 400kg bull calf making €800 or €2.33/kg.
Quality lots are getting in short supply and good calves are still hitting over €2.50/kg, with a number of exporters and feedlots competing for the better-type calves.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Carrigallen Mart manager Helen Kells said: “We were delighted with the sale, with a huge amount of customers here to purchase replacement heifers on Saturday.
“Some of the heifers went local, with a lot going to Northern Ireland purchasers and a few heading down south to show stock producers.
“We’ve seen a really good trade for weanlings over the last few months, so these farmers are probably willing to go that bit further now when purchasing replacements.
“Bull calves have probably eased a little in the last week or so. Grass is tight in the northern half of the country and it’s probably starting to affect trade a little.
“Cull cows have held up very well, with well-fleshed cows hitting over €2/kg now on a regular basis. Calves too have seen a very strong trade all spring.
“Good-quality Hereford and Angus heifer calves have been hitting €300/head here on Saturdays, with a lot of new customers buying calves this year,” she said.