Why Christmas has come early for dairy sector

Marts around the country report a lively trade for cows

Michael Harty selling at Nenagh Mart, while sales clerk Con Ryan keeps an eye on the proceedings
Michael Harty selling at Nenagh Mart, while sales clerk Con Ryan keeps an eye on the proceedings
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Strong demand for dairy cull cows is delivering an end-of-year bonus to milk suppliers as they dry off herds and sell unwanted stock.

Marts around the country report a lively trade for cows, with prices varying from around €1/kg to €200 with the weight for strong young cows.

Numbers have increased in the marts with recent weather and prices have risen slightly over the last fortnight.

"I believe more people have gone into feeding cows - there are a few more faces around the ring for them," explained Tom McCarthy of Bandon Mart."They are a cheaper option than stores. And if cows go right for you, they could go very right," he added.

The bulk of the store cows on offer at Bandon last week sold for between €1/kg and €150 over, Mr McCarthy said.

"It's a great finish off to the year for the dairy man," he commented. He said there was good interest from the factory feedlots for the forward type cows with good flesh.

It was a similar story in Nenagh and Kilmallock. Michael Harty of Central Auctions, Nenagh said €1.20/kg to €150 over was buying the vast bulk of the cows on offer, with feeders taking the vast majority of the stock.

"They [feeders] did well on the cow trade in the spring, and they're back again," Mr Harty said. A good heavy Friesian cow weighing 655kg made €1,000.

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Meanwhile, David Quinn of Carnew Mart maintained that strong competition between factory buyers and wholesalers meant that prices at ringside were "outstripping factory quotes" for quality grades of stock.

He said good quality 700kg bullocks were making up to €1,000 with their weight, which equated to over €4/kg or in excess of the current factory quotes. While the trade had been more difficult through the autumn for plainer store cattle, particularly for Hereford and Angus out of the dairy herd, there has been a noted improvement in the past fortnight.

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