Mart sales are expected to remain online for the foreseeable future, as the Government has again renewed Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions.

Marts had originally planned for a return date of 5 March when restrictions were due to be reviewed.

However, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced a six-week extension to Level 5 restrictions until 5 April, when a further review will be conducted.

Under current restrictions, farmers and dealers are only able to buy stock through online sales and marts are operating a drop-and-go service for sellers dropping off animals.

Buyers also have the option to book a time in the lairage to view animals before sales begin.


Latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show mart throughput in 2021 has so far compared with the same time last year at 95.5% for cattle and 95.8% for sheep.

From 1 January to 15 February 2021, 131,000 cattle and 99,400 sheep have been sold through online mart sales under Level 5 restrictions.

When tighter restrictions were originally announced in December, it had been hoped that small numbers of buyers could be facilitated at the ring.

However, the rising case numbers saw sales move fully online, with many marts opting to postpone sales after Christmas.

Particular focus has also been placed on preventing farmers gathering in car parks outside mart premises.

Busy period

Marts are entering one of the busiest periods of the year as calf sales get under way in earnest and an increasing number of autumn-born weanlings come to the market.

A Department spokesperson said the ability for marts to continue operating effectively was a “testament to the hard work, commitment and effort of mart staff and farmers during this difficult period”.

Farming and associated businesses remain an essential service under the Government’s new restrictions. That includes farming, farm labour, farm relief services, forestry, AI services and fallen animal disposal.