Elphin Mart was packed to the rafters last Friday (November 7th), as crowds gathered in their numbers for Martin O’Connor’s hotly-anticipated in-calf heifer sale.
48 hand-picked continental-type heifers with “size, power and quality,” went under the hammer at the Roscommon-based venue.
The majority of the Limousin-cross-Simmental, Limousin-cross-Belgian Blue, Charolais-cross-Limousin and Charolais-cross-Simmental entries were scanned in-calf to renowned easy-calving AI Limousin sires, EBY and LM4058 (Lodge Hamlet).
They heifers - which are due to calf between this month and next month - have been vaccinated for IBR and Lepto and have tested negative for neospora.
Top call of €5,000
Prices ranged from €1,850 to €5,000, delivering an average of just shy of €2,500 with a 100% clearance recorded. 4 heifers exceeded the €4,000 price barrier; 7 heifers were purchased by customers in Northern Ireland, while two lots are destined for Scotland.
Speaking to That’s Farming, Martin O’Connor, said: “I would have to put my hand on my heart and say that the sale exceeded my expectations, considering the current climate, beef prices at the present time and attempts to talk down the suckler herd.”
“A lot of repeat customers made purchases at my 12th-anniversary sale, with buyers from Cork to Donegal, along with Northern Ireland and Scotland.”
“The amount of people that attended the sale that just came to see the heifers alone was rewarding.”
“The sale-topper is by a heifer that I sold at my sale in 2016. I bought her last year off the man – it gives you a great buzz when something like that happens because it shows you the way these heifers are breeding.” O'Connor added.
Premium of €300-€400/head
Martin said that it is “very evident” that there is a demand for high-end commercial breeding females. “Quality will pay - top-quality weanlings are capable of demanding €300-€400/head more in marts than average-types.” he commented.
One of Martin’s customers, who has purchased several heifers from him down through the years, sold seven March and April-2019-born Charolais-cross bull weanlings at Roscommon Mart on Tuesday, October 22nd. “They averaged €1,064 for an average weight of 340kg or €3.10/kg.”
“The top-seller was an April-born calf – weighing 290kg; that weanling sold for €1,160 or €4.00/kg.” Martin outlined.
Emphasis on quality
Martin explained that “as soon as the last heifer is sold,” he starts planning for his next annual sale, which always takes place on the second Friday night in November.
“I am sussing out heifers already, but the types I look for are becoming harder and harder to get.”
Martin said that he is "very lucky" that breeders contact him to notify him that they have, what they consider, potentially suitable stock, for sale. “I am extremely fussy – the heifers must be U grades, have good pelvic conformation and a docile nature.”
Meeting market demands
“I try to supply what the customers need – they want top-quality stock, with power in their females. They need a cow that has milk and can rear her own calf.”
“I would like to thank all of those who attended the sale, purchasers, under-bidders and those who helped in any way; Tom Cox (auctioneer), Gerry Connellan, manager at Elphin Mart and all staff, Tracey in the mart canteen, and Tricia Kennedy.”
“I am grateful that people that have stood by me down through the years. In this game, you never standstill. You always treat your buyers with respect and give them the opportunity to buy the best possible animals they can, at any time.”
“I wish every single purchaser the very best of luck with their heifers and their future progeny. I want the cattle to be just as lucky for them, as they have been for me.” Martin concluded.
Image source: Tricia Kennedy