Mart throughput figures analysed by the Department of Agriculture’s animal identification and movement (AIM) division shows that Friesian-sired bovines were the most common breed of animal passing through mart sales in 2023.

The 382,591 head accounted for 20% of throughput. As detailed in Table 1, this was just 16 head higher than Limousin-sired stock, with Angus animals not far behind.

Mart throughput totalled 1.9m head, with this figure including 95,734 animals entered in sales but returning home unsold.

The split between male and female animals was 51.8% in favour of males.

October was the busiest month for sales, accounting for 262,524 mart entries, while March and April were not far behind at 236,793 and 238,601 head respectively.

Age analysis

Table 2 details a breakdown of mart throughput by breed type, which is defined by the progeny of a dairy or beef sire and age profile.

The most common age of animal traded was those aged 18 to 24 months of age.

The number of dairy females aged over 30 months is driven primarily by dairy cull cows and a small percentage of breeding animals.

On the beef side, it is dominated by cull beef cows, followed by heifers aged over 30 months and then in-calf animals.

Farm-to-farm movements

Friesian animals dominated farm-to-farm movements, which is not surprising given the trade of dairy stock and animals moving farms under contract rearing agreements.

Some 542,835 head or 39% of the total figure of 1.392m head were Friesian-bred.

This was followed by 295,030 Aberdeen Angus and 157,548 Hereford, with calf movements accounting for the greatest percentage of movements.

The remaining breed profile is made up of 129,696 Limousin, 92,765 Charolais, 39,006 Simmental, 37,304 Jersey, 34,223 Belgian Blue and 64,311 other.

The main months were March (250,309 head) and April (210,992 head).

Delving deeper into dairy farm-to-farm movements shows 130,935 male calves moving farms aged zero to six weeks of age and 28,046 heifer calves. The next highest category was 108,578 females over 30 months followed by 73,498 females 18 to 24 months.