Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Strong cull prices see suckler trade rocket

Demand also high for in-calf heifers as farmers upgrade herds

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Demand for suckler cows and in-calf heifers has surged as buyers take advantage of strong cull prices to upgrade their herds.

Exceptional prices of between €2,400 and €2,900 were paid for a number of top quality suckler cows with calves at foot this week, while the cost of average quality stock has also increased significantly.

A clearance sale of top quality commercial suckler cows and springing heifers attracted a massive crowd to Carrigallen Mart last week, where staff struggled to accommodate all bidders at the ringside.

A top price of €2,880 was paid for a six-year-old Limousin suckler cow with a January-born AI Belgian Blue calf at foot, while another seven-year-old Limousin cow with an October-born Belgian Blue calf made €2,850. Both cows were AI served to a Blue bull again.

A three-year-old Limousin with a December Limousin calf made €2,520, as did a six-year-old Charolais with a January Charolais calf at foot.

A six-year-old Limousin cow with a December Charolais calf made €2,400.

The herd of 12 cows with calves and eight springers, was sold on behalf of a young part-time farmer emigrating to Australia.

Mart manager Helen Kells said the farmer was well known for producing quality stock and buyers knew that the animals always produced top quality weanlings.

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"But the prices were still much higher than our expectations," she admitted.

"Over €2,000 would be a great achievement usually for a cow and calf."

While the Leitrim prices were in a league of their own, other marts reported very brisk trade for sucklers in the past week.

Martin McNamara, manager of Ennis Mart, said suckler cow prices were up around €500/hd on last year.

"Our suckler ring was mobbed this week, there was 200 or 250 buyers there," he said.


Breeding stock from a reduction sale of 30 in-calf suckler cows owned by a Limerick farmer made up to €2,205.

Meanwhile, a number of in-calf Salers made up to €1,700 each.

"The price of all stock is gone up but cull cow prices are very strong, with Continental cows making up to €1,200/hd," Mr McNamara explained. "With that cull price, farmers can afford to pay more for suckler cows and heifers."

At Ballinrobe Mart, prices for top Continental cows with Continental calves at foot were €1,700-1,800 but the general run was from €800 to €1,500, depending on quality and age.

Mart manager Tim Maguire said cull cows were making €500 with the weight, which was giving confidence to farmers.

He said the return of younger farmers to the land had resulted in an increased number of buyers for cows and heifers.

Young farmers were also driving the trade for cows at Kilkenny Mart, according to auctioneer George Candler.

"Cows with calves at foot are making €1,000-1,650 and in-calf heifers are making €900-1,300," he said. "And there is a good cull cow price of €1.50-1.60/kg at the moment."

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