The great Monaghan man Oliver Brady once said that “Ballybay was for drinking tae”. However, if he was around today, he could say “Ballybay’s for buying cattle”.
Ballybay Mart has seen a transformation under new manager Leitrim native Adrian Grimes in recent months, with between 1,000 and 1,500 cattle moving through the sales ring on a weekly basis.
This is on top of over 500 cattle weekly moving north through their licenced export premises and close to 1,000 head of sheep also being sold through the mart.
Adrian said: “We have worked hard on the northern trade side of things and encouraging that custom across the border. We always had good northern trade here and it was just a matter of building on that.
“We’ve also managed to attract a few English customers for the last few weeks who are buying cows for direct slaughter. We have some very good southern customers, as well as southern factory buyers being very active in the last few weeks.”
Last Friday night saw a special breeding heifer sale. Top-quality breeding heifers have been in big demand in recent weeks and Friday night saw a top price of €1,410 for a 345kg Limousin heifer (€4.08/kg).
Heifers in the 300kg to 400kg bracket were generally hitting €2.50/kg to €2.70/kg, with a few choice lots hitting between €2.70/kg and €2.90/kg.
Heavier heifers over 400kg were around the €2.40/kg to €2.60/kg mark, with well-shaped heifers topping out at €2.80/kg.
In the weanling bull ring, there was a good trade, with lighter weanlings being an especially good trade.
Continental Limousin and Charolais bulls around the 250kg mark were hitting €3/kg for €750 and over it.
Plainer, lighter dairy-cross types were back at €2.20/kg to €2.30/kg. Heavier bulls also met good demand, with quality bulls in the 300kg to 400kg bracket hitting €2.50/kg to €2.80/kg and a few exceptional lots hitting €3 and over.
There was a mixed show of suckler cows and in-calf heifers, with a top of €1,600 for a 2018-born Limousin heifer due to calve at the end of April to a Limousin bull. Older cows ranged from €900 to €1,400/head.
Ballybay Mart holds its weekly cattle sales on Saturdays, which includes store cattle and dry cows.
Weanling sales, along with suckler cows, takes place on Friday evenings and sheep sales take place on Tuesday evenings.
Special dairy sales take place on Wednesdays during spring.