There was over 350 calves on offer at Leinster Marts calf sale in Carlow Mart on Monday last and with the exception of two, all were sold.

The unsold calves did receive bids, but the vendor chose to take them home instead.

For Friesian bull calves, the shipping type was making between €15 and €80, while up to €120 and even €130 was paid by farmer buyers for the stronger black and white calf.

Keeping with calves for the home market, Angus and Hereford bull and heifer calves were selling for between €100 and €220, depending on age.

Top price

At the upper end of the trade for calves, continentals were generally selling for between €250 to €350 for the continental. The top price of €350 was for a Limousin bull calf.

Carlow Mart didn’t buck what has become the national trend for 2024 calf sales in that numbers are back a fraction on where they usually are and that Friesian bull calf numbers are lagging behind too.

Speaking after the sale, mart manager Jimmy Walsh said: “There’s lots of confidence in the calf trade at the moment, but the sales have been smaller compared to a year ago.

“That’s been the sale trend so far. Calving is a little bit later and calves are being kept on farm a little bit longer too.

“There’s a lot less weaker calves this year, maybe the message is getting through to farmers that the mart isn’t a dumping ground for calves.

“The calf welfare issue in the media last year definitely made farmers much more aware. There are still the lower value calves, but not in the same numbers as before. We still get the few that sell for €5 or €10. Farmers aren’t as anxious for that smaller calf.”

Change of mix

He also commented on the change of mix when it comes to breeds and how that’s played its part in maintaining a thriving demand for calves.

“For our regular farmer customers, there seems to be a better mix of Hereford- and Angus-cross calves out this spring. It’s not all Friesians anymore.

“Usually, we’d have about 85% Friesian calves at this time of year - this year that is back to maybe 70% now.

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“What we’re seeing is that this brings more interest from farmer buyers. They were very active for beef-cross calves this week.”

With prices for stores increased, Jimmy also noted that a number of farmers are switching to buying calves as they can build up bigger numbers for a smaller initial financial outlay.

“There are more farmers looking at calves for that reason. Also, not every farmer wants to buy 20 calves in the one go. Some will buy four or five and buy again in a few weeks. No one size fits all when it comes to calves.”

In pictures

The three-week-old Speckle Park heifer calves sold for €110.

This three-week-old Angus-cross heifer calf sold for €110.

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These two-week-old Aubrac-cross heifer calves sold for €75.

These three-week-old Friesian bull calves sold for €30.

This three-week-old Limousin-cross heifer calf sold for €145.

These three-week-old Speckle Park-cross heifer calves sold for €130.

This two-week-old Limousin-cross heifer calf sold for €75.

This two-week-old Limousin-cross heifer calf sold for €50.

This three-week-old Hereford-cross heifer calf sold for €150.

This three-week-old Hereford-cross bull calf sold for €140.

These three-week-old Friesian bull calves sold for €55.