The two early talking points of the 2024 calf trade have been the fall off in Friesian bull calf numbers and delays in getting calves registered for farmers participating in the National Genotyping Programme.

Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) data from mart sales show calf numbers increased this week. Friesians were the backbone in this rise; but their numbers are back 719 head compared to the same week in 2023.

Castleisland mart manager, Neilus McAuliffe, said that there are more coloured calves and fewer Friesians out this year compared to other years.

“I think Friesian numbers will fall off faster too. There’s an exceptional trade for the beef-cross calf, and shipping calves made €30 to €70 here this week.”

Moves have been made this week to speed up calf registrations but their delay has been seen at marts this year.

Jonathan O’Sullivan from Cork Marts reported similar trends to other years – but they are running a week behind where they usually would be.

“We’re seeing that across all our mart centres, so far. They’ve been back anywhere from 10 to 20% compared to the same weeks last year. This week in Bandon was the first sale that seemed to be back on track.”

Data from the ICBF shows the average price for Friesian bulls under three weeks of age was €50/head this week, down €1 on last week’s price, while those over three weeks averaged €65/head.