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Surge in cattle at the marts but backlog will take weeks to clear

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George Candler

George Candler

George Candler

A surge in cattle numbers in the marts is forecast this week as the lifting of the factory blockades feeds back along the supply chain.

However, mart managers have warned that the disruption caused by the protests will take some time to clear, with a serious backlog of stock waiting to be killed, and similar numbers of stores building on farms.

Numbers going through sales rings have been hammered over the last month, with mart turnouts back 50pc in some areas.

One mart manager in the south reckoned that numbers were running at 50-60pc of normal levels for September.

While mart turnouts in the southeast were well back last week, George Candler of Kilkenny Mart pointed out that the Ploughing in Carlow and the good weather had a definite impact on numbers.

David Quinn of Carnew Mart said numbers on Saturday were 20pc back on normal for this time of the year.

Mr Quinn said the uncertainty surrounding the factory protests, the fine weather and strong grass growth during September had combined to keep sales small.

However, he forecast a sharp increase in mart entries this week with the ending of the protests and the recent heavy rains in the east of the country forcing cattle off heavy land.

Continentals

Increased numbers were also evident in Roscommon Mart on Friday, with over 80 pens of cattle on offer.

Maura Quigley reported a strong trade for good-quality continental bullocks and heifers at Roscommon, with farmers and agents paying over €2/kg for forward store animals.

Similarly strong prices were paid in Carnew, where good-quality continental bullocks over 600kg made €2-2.30/kg, with plainer sorts selling for €1.75-1.90/kg. The best of the stores generally made €2.10-2.20/kg.

Mart managers report that feedlot buyers have been slow to fill sheds this year, and most have yet to start buying. While this delay has been attributed to the disruption caused by the factory protests, some mart managers maintain that there is considerable unease around Brexit, and a hangover from poor returns last winter.

"Money is tight with a lot of lads and they are watching what is happening with Brexit," David Quinn said.

These concerns were echoed by Ann Harkin of Raphoe Mart. "I'm worried, full stop," she said.

While she welcomed the end to the beef protest, she cautioned that factories will struggle to kill finished cattle quick enough to clear the backlog of stock and thereby allow farmers to buy stores.

Surge in cattle at the marts but backlog will take weeks to clear

Indo Farming