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Bull calves at €350/hd in 'on fire' trade

Friesian bull calves hit €350/hd in the marts as farmers and dealers dominated proceedings in the first of the sales this year.

Exporters were unable to compete with local buyers who were intent on securing the first flush of calves which have come onto the market.

Bandon Mart manager Tom McCarthy said the trade has been "absolutely on fire" since the Christmas break.

He said most of the calves were bought by dairy farmers looking for young stock to drink excess milk or by beef farmers who couldn't, or wouldn't, pay big money for stores.

"Stores are so dear that you'd get nothing in the cattle rings for €1,000," said Mr McCarthy.

As a result, he said many buyers were opting to buy three or four early calves that would be ready to go out to grass in late spring, rather than invest in stores.

Mr McCarthy added that there was strong demand for the 280 calves on offer at Bandon last week.

Light Friesian bulls sold for €170-280/hd, with up to €350 being paid for stronger and older calves.

There was a big variation in the prices paid for Hereford and Angus bulls, with entries making €300-530/hd depending on age and quality.

It was a similar story in Kilmallock, where Friesian bull calves made €140-330/hd. There was also good demand for heifers, with a six-week-old Angus heifer making €410.

The bulk of the calves were bought by west of Ireland customers.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed a record level of electronic calf registrations last year. More than 700,000hd, or 34pc of calves, were registered electronically using the online service or an approved farm management package.

Indo Farming