BANDON’S first online mart made some of the highest calf prices seen in a long time, according to manager Tom McCarthy.
The online mart, in response to Covid-19 restrictions, took place for the first time in Bandon on bank holiday Monday, and the previous Friday in Skibbereen.
Bandon’s prices included €500 for continental bull calves and €450 for hereford and angus bull calves.
The top price of the day was €600 for a charlaois bull, which has gone to a Dunmanway farm, but Tom says they saw lots of buyers from outside Cork, including the Midlands, which was unusual.
And, while it was difficult to quantify, he said it appeared that buyer numbers were up for this time of the year.
The process works with farmers bringing their animals to West Cork marts (Bandon, Skibbereen and Macroom) as usual. Buyers are given a time to come and physically inspect the animals for a set period, before having to leave the premises for the sale to begin.
‘We’re very happy with how things have gone so far in Bandon and Skibbereen. It’s a new departure, but seems to be falling into place,’ said Tom.
Marts can reopen in the next phase, but with social distancing, Tom expects the online sales to be a fixture for some time.
Cork Marts are using two different companies to run the sales, marteye.ie and livestock-live: ‘This is new to us all so we’re trialling things and finding out what suits us all best, and what’s the most robust system,’ Tom added.
Older farmers are also responding well to the technology involved in online sales, he said.
‘They’ve adapted to smart phones for things like discussion groups and aren’t disenfranchised by this at all. And, for anyone who might be put off, we have people here on sale days to help out.’
Marts were closed since mid-March, but they were allowed sell animals under strict Dept of Agriculture protocols. They were able to match buyers and sellers, weigh animals and oversee the sale, but there were no public auctions.
The online sales will continue in Skibbereen on Fridays (cattle and calves), Macroom on Saturdays (cattle and calves) and Bandon on Monday (calves) and Thursday (cattle).
Online sales are also being conducted in Fermoy, Dungarvan and Cahir.
‘The reason Bandon is split at the moment is to keep numbers down,’ added Tom.