Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Calf trade remains strong despite exports uncertainty

A surge in calf numbers expected from this week
A surge in calf numbers expected from this week

The calf trade in the marts remains strong despite continuing uncertainty around the level of export activity this spring.

Marts report significant farmer buying, with the exporters waiting for the full flush of calves to come on stream from next week.

A two-tier market is evident in the sales, with a considerable variation in prices depending on the age and conformation of stock.

In Kilmallock Mart last week, exporters paid from €70/hd to €130/hd for suitable Friesian bull calves.

However, Denis Kirby said farmer buyers were very anxious for calves and paid from €150/hd to €225/hd for good quality British Friesian bulls.

Hereford and Angus bulls sold for €250-400/hd, while continental bulls made from €300/hd to €450/hd.

Matt Malone of Central Auctions maintained that there has been insufficient calves to meet farmer demand to date, and this had helped drive prices.

"I think farmers around here have delayed calving by a week or fortnight," Malone said.

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However, he expects bigger numbers to become available from this week and next.

There was a brisk trade for British Friesian bulls in Nenagh last week, with farmers paying around €200/hd for the best types. Small, light Holsteins sold for €50-60/hd. Similar prices were recorded at Kilkenny Mart, with €50-70/hd being paid for light Friesian bulls, but a stronger trade for the older calves.

Continental bulls made from €200/hd to €380/hd, continental heifers sold for €160-360/hd, Angus and Hereford bulls sold for €180-415/hd, with the heifers making €150-350/hd.

There have been reports in the south of farmers selling Friesian bulls from the yard for an average of €100/hd.

With a surge in calf numbers expected from this week, Kilmallock Mart is putting on an additional sale of 'export-type calves' from this Friday (February 24).

The calves will not be sold in the ring but will be auctioned in the pens.

Tighter transport rules in the Netherlands has added to the continued uncertainty in the calf export trade.

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