Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Holstein bull calves selling for a tenner

Bandon Mart had record entries in their late February sales.
Bandon Mart had record entries in their late February sales.

Martin Ryan

Holstein bull calves have dropped to 'give away' prices of €10-€15/hd as entries surge to record levels at the marts.

Calf numbers have risen by up to 20pc in southern marts as the impact of an extra 120,000 dairy cows calving in this year takes effect. Dairy calvings are 36,000 higher than 2015 already, and Bandon mart had record entries in their late February sales.

Stormy weather has also taken a toll on shipping, with cancelled sailings hitting prices by €10/hd for the export types, according to Bandon mart manager, Tom McCarthy. "We are losing one or two voyages every week and it is effecting the demand for export," he said.

However, Bord Bia figures show that calf exports are up by 4,000 head for the first two months of 2016 compared to 2015. But it is farmers that are underpinning the trade for good calves, according to Kilmallock's Denis Kirby.

Prices were up by €18/hd on 2015 even though the 1,120 entry was 15pc higher, he said. However, prices for the plainer young calves were back on last year by €10-€15/hd.

It was a similar story at Kanturk, where numbers were "well up", but the young calves were "a very poor trade" according to manager Seamus O'Keeffe.

"Some of the Holstein type bull calves coming from the intensive dairy herds are only making €10-€15 because there is no demand for them. The good Friesian bulls are making up to €130/hd and the tops up to €180/hd. Angus and Hereford are in good demand from farmers at up to €380/hd."

In Bandon stronger Friesian bulls were "making every bit as much as last year," said Tom McCarthy. "The British Friesian bulls are €120-200, Angus and Herefords are €220-280, while the good continentals are making anything up to €500. Holsteins fit for the Spanish market are at €80-120, while the lightest lads are at €40-80."

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