Donegal Livestock Mart had its first big cattle sale of the season last Friday, with a large entry of forward heifers and weanlings.

A combination of feedlot finishers, farmer finishers, exporters and factory agents kept the trade very lively for all categories of stock.

Factory-fit cows are in big demand, with a number of online buyers capitalising on the ability to hit a number of marts in the one day.

Cows started off what was a super day’s trading. Heavy cows over 800kg were hitting over €3/kg (over €2,400/head), with a number of wholesalers and factory agents vying for slaughter-fit cows.

The general run of forward store cows was €2.50/kg to €3.00/kg, with the higher prices going for cows closer to slaughter.

Cows lacking flesh were still a very solid trade, with most cows selling for €2.20/kg to €2.40/kg.

Forward heifers were an equally good trade, with good-quality Charolais and Limousin heifers also hitting the €3/kg mark for those at the top.

A number of heavy heifers over the 600kg mark even went as far as €3.30/kg, with a March 2021-born Charolais heifer weighing 646kg selling for €2,140 (€3.31/kg).

Heifers in the 500kg to 600kg bracket were regularly hitting over €3/kg, with most of these heifers selling for between €1,600 and €1,800/head.

Weanling bulls were in demand, with both finishers and exporters waving hands to secure their loads. The new baseline for weanling bulls is €3/kg.

Weanling heifers were also in big demand, with a few breeding types hitting €5/kg, the highlight being a 260kg roan Limousin heifer selling for €1,600.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, mart manager Eimear McGuiness said: “I have never seen anything like it. It’s great to see, as suckling has been in the doldrums long enough.

“The suckler cow is the heart of this area and you have farmers now gaining some confidence and keeping the numbers up.

“The exporters are also a really important part of the trade and we need to do everything we can to protect that trade.”

She said: “I’m worried about the new TB regulations and the impact that they could have on the mart trade.”

Under the new regulations, cattle over 36 months of age that are sold in the mart and haven’t been tested within the previous six months must be tested within 30 days of arrival on the buyer’s farm.

In pictures

This July 2021-born Charolais heifer weighed 526kg and sold for €1,930 (€3.67/kg).

This December 2021-born Charolais heifer weighed 454kg and sold for €1,320 (€2.91/kg).

This May 2022-born Belgian Blue-cross heifer weanling weighed 314kg and sold for €1,680 (€5.35/kg).

This February 2022-born Belgian Blue heifer weighed 320kg and sold for €910 (€2.84/kg).

This Aubrac-cross bull weanling weighed 398kg and sold for €1,250 (€3.14/kg).

This April 2022-born Charolais heifer weighed 330kg selling for €1,060 (€3.21/kg).

This May 2022-born Limousin-cross heifer weighed 380kg and sold for €1,920 (€5.05/kg).

This June 2022-born Limousin-cross heifer weighed 296kg selling for €1,550 (€5.24/kg).

This October 2020-born Charolais heifer weighed 434kg and sold for €1,340 (€3.09/kg).

This August 2021-born Charolais heifer weighed 396kg and sold for €1,390 ( €3.51/kg).

This April 2021-born Charolais heifer weighed 650kg and sold for €2,070 (€3.18/kg).

This January 2021-born Charolais-cross heifer weighed 398kg and sold for €1,180 (€2.96/kg).

This November 2021-born Belgian Blue bull weighed 470kg and sold for €1,720 (€3.66/kg).