Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

Connacht Gold in ¤1.3m upgrading of Balla Mart

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Connacht Gold has pumped over €1.3m into a major upgrade of Balla Livestock Mart in Co Mayo.

The revamped facility, including a state-of-the-art €300,000 effluent treatment plant, additional animal intake points, handling systems and extended parking, was opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Friday.

Balla Mart is already the largest mart in Connacht and the north west, with a throughput in excess of 50,000 cattle per annum. It is among the five largest marts in Ireland for sales of weanlings and older cattle.

However, the new facilities will enable the mart to handle even more cattle, up to 1,500 cattle per sale.

Connacht Gold mart division manager Martin Walsh said the new animal intake and parking facilities would result in a higher efficiency and comfort for both sellers and buyers.

The new circular animal intake includes an increase in the number of cattle chutes from four to six, and additional loading bays and holding pens.

Mr Walsh said the design of the new facilities had a significant emphasis on safety, animal welfare and safety for customers assessing animals.

"Particular attention was given to the creation of 'safe areas'," he explained. "This included overhead walkways in the intake and penning area."

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The redevelopment of Balla Mart follows the recent announcement that Connacht Gold is to invest €1.5m in expanding and upgrading its agri-business store, DIY and garden centre in neighbouring Westport and a similar upgrade of the Mohill Mart last year.

Connacht Gold chief executive Aaron Forde said the investment was further evidence of the co-op's commitment to its suppliers and customers and to job creation in the region.

"Connacht Gold has an ongoing commitment to inward investment. We have invested over €70m in the last eight years alone and the fruits of this investment have had a clear impact on the growth and strength of the business," he said.

Balla is one of four marts operated by Connacht Gold in Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

The other marts are Ballinrobe, Ballymote and Mohill which, together with Balla, account for annual throughput of more than 100,000 cattle and 35,000 sheep.

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