London Olympics, world demand and livestock numbers are reasons to be positive about the the livestock trade for the year ahead, according to Dowra Mart manager, Patsy Smith.
In typical fashion, however, before looking forward too much we must look back and thankfully the past year has been probably the best year in memory for the trade for both sheep and cattle at livestock marts around the country.
Mr Smith said that cattle numbers and prices were up significantly across the board with farmers seeing for the first time that stores they bought in the spring and sold off grass in the back end left a very satisfactory margin. This will undoubtedly encourage them to go back into the market place again and this is what the industry should be all about.
The weanling trade confirmed that the farmer is the best customer to share his profits as shippers found it almost impossible to compete with them at ringside. Good quality weanlings, especially the Charollais, were very much in demand with the farmer.
Macroom Mart manager John O'Mahony described 2011 as an exceptional year for cattle prices at the marts. His records showed that good quality R type weanling bulls were up by €150-250/hd, with the 420-520kg store cattle probably enjoying the best trade when everything was taken into account.
It was a thumbs up for the trade prospects for the year ahead from Mr O'Mahony also, who had strong confidence for the first half of the year and was very hopeful for the second six months of 2012.
John Murphy, manager of Tullow Mart, remarked on the fact that all the expectations of a drop in numbers towards the end of 2011 never materialised with the opposite being the case as numbers remained strong right to the end, as did prices. Cattle prices were higher in the August/September period than they were in the spring.
Dairy stock were probably the worst sellers, with quota problems not helping matters. Suckler stock were very strong all through with special sales proving to be very successful.
However, these are the type of sales Mr Murphy would probably prefer not to hold as he sees them as a way of reducing the raw material next year for the local mart given that many of the cows sold leave the area.
With the suckler cow trade in mind, Mr Murphy said it was all about the quality of the calf she was rearing.
He has never in his time seen so many cull cows sold through their mart due to the extremely strong trade. He expects numbers to be tighter for the year ahead and the trade to remain good.