Many people will look back on 2020 as a year they’ll want to forget.
While not perfect by any means in the cattle world either, 2020 did bring a new age of buying and indeed sale highlights.
Never again will we see bidding for stock solely doable from the ringside as the implementation of lockdowns nationwide led to the introduction of online bidding in nearly every mart, big and small.
An idea that was always going to come into play at some stage for sales got its timeline fast-forwarded due to necessity.
A number of pedigree sales got called off or had to run totally online. This, however, didn’t affect trade, if the buyers were allowed to see the animals first. In fact many society sales reported higher prices than had been seen in many years and some even saw record prices.
Most notable of these was the selling of Simmental bull Clonagh Lucky Explorer who sold for a new all Irish breed record price of €52,000.
This is double that of the former breed record and also stands as the highest price paid for a Simmental at auction throughout Ireland and the UK.
Claiming the top price were breeders Garrett and Lyndsey Behan based in Ballyfin, Co Laois. Lucky Explorer was sired by Manor Park Hansome, who the Behans purchased for the top price of 22,000gns in Stirling, Scotland, a number of years ago.
His dam line is just as impressive, with his mother twice overall national champion and also awarded Miss Simmental Europe in 2016.
Her sire is three-time overall national champion Banwy T-Rex. Having garnered much attention on Facebook pre-sale, the 1,000kg May 2019-born bull was knocked down to the Woods family who run the Popes herd in the UK.
The Charolais breed also hosted a number of impressive sales. In the spring, Harry Noble sold his bull Noble Prince for €15,000. This was a new Elphin record for a Charolais bull until the Christmas Cracker came in December and Lisnagre Peder hit the market at €16,600.
Peder is an October 2019-born bull bred by Jim Geoghegan from Westmeath. No stranger to success, Geoghegan came to the ring with high expectations but active bidders, both online and ringside, quickly brought the bull past his reserve.
A son of the famous Pirate, his back breeding also includes Jupiter and Hermes. After back and forth bidding, auctioneer Tom Cox eventually dropped the hammer at €16,600, selling to Claire Ferris from Northern Ireland.
No stranger to buying southern-bred stock, Ferris secured the top-priced lot at the November sale of Charolais heifers a month earlier. That day she secured Ballymorrishill Polly and her sister for a combined total price of €23,400.
One of the last breeds to host their premier sale was the Irish Angus cattle society with the elite sale in the second week of December. A record was again set here, when Ernehill Samson sold for €8,600, the top price since the sale started 13 years ago.
Bred by Cavan-based Francis and Noel Fitzpatrick, Samson had created quite the interest online following the posting of a pre-sale video.
Born September 2019, the super stylish Samson is a son of Ballymagrine Wonder while the dam’s line includes the sire of last year’s Elite sale high-seller HF Rebel and Dalrene Cruz. Power and pedigree weren’t the only things to get the Ernehill bull to the top flight, as he also carried nearly five stars on every trait and a calving ease figure for beef cows of just 0.8%.
After competitive bidding ringside, the bull was eventually knocked down to Oliver Haugh of the Feenagh herd in Co Clare.
A male price record was set at the Irish Shorthorn Cattle Society's autumn premier sale in Roscommon in November. The stylish March 2019-born bull Rockville Banada 452 set the sale alight when he left the ring at a price of €4,800.
Bred and exhibited by Anthony Dockery, the roan bull is a son of Tentore Dearg and out of the Bushypark Enda 3rd daughter Bennekerry Rose Red. The five-star terminal Banada now finds pastures new in a commercial suckler herd in Co Meath.
An Aubrac record price of €4,350 was recorded at the society’s premier in October. Selling totally online amid COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Ashbrook Othello had caught a few breeders’ eyes in the pre-sale viewing time.
This interest from a number of keen parties drove Othello’s price to the new record. Born May 2019, this stylish bull was bred by Michael Hanlon from Dring, Co Longford. Sired by Dauphin and out of a Roussel-bred dam, he sold with five stars on the replacement index and a dairy beef index of €138.
The Limousin breed didn’t set any records in 2020 but did see a top price of €11,000 for Ernevalley Powerhouse ET at the autumn premier online sale. This son of Plumtree Fantastic is out of the homebred Ampertaine Gigolo daughter Ernevalley Lollypop. Bred by Eddie Lynch from Loughduff, Co Cavan, he was secured by a Northern Irish buyer.