Selling calves under 10 days old will be banned under new animal welfare measures being prepared by the Department of Agriculture.
Mart managers have supported the move but insist it must be brought in for farm-to-farm movements to ensure a level playing field.
“We accepted it should be done from an animal welfare point of view but only when it is illegal for a farmer to do it as well,” said ICOS marts executive Ray Doyle.
The new measures were discussed at a meeting between mart managers and the Department of Agriculture over animal welfare rules and the Livestock Marts regulations.
Cashel Mart manager Alison De Vere Hunt said no one wants to see young weak calves in the mart and the “stronger they are, then the less chance of spreading disease.
“We find that with the younger calves, farmers would make more if they held on to them for a week or two longer.
“The shippers won’t buy them if they are too weak,” she said.
However, she also warned it must apply to farm-to-farm movements.
Mart managers were told the 10-days measure will take effect from April 1. The Farming Independent understands that the Department of Agriculture intends to apply the measure to farm-to-farm sales as well as marts.
Other measures will include a ban on using sticks on calves under six months of age.
Meanwhile, calf exporters have been very active in southern marts for the last fortnight, with one manager claiming that he had between six and eight shipper buyers at recent sales.
Demand for calves from both farmers and shippers has been described as extremely strong, with live exporter confidence receiving a timely boost by the recent securing of a suitable vessel by Stena Line for the continental route.
The ship can take up to 12 trucks or over 3,000 calves, which will provide enough capacity to take the surge of calf exports over the next month.
The poor weather over the last fortnight has hit numbers in some marts, and managers also maintain that the real flush of calves is 10 days back on normal.
Shippers paid from €75 to €130/hd in Bandon, Skibbereen and Macroom for Friesian bull calves, buying the bulk of them for €100/hd to €120/hd. Farmer-type bull calves sold for €130 to €200/hd.
Lively farmer buying of Hereford and Angus bulls in Kilmallock saw the general run of prices range from €250 to €300/hd, with top quality lots making up to €390/hd.
Some exceptional prices have been paid for continental-type calves, with Belgian Blue bulls selling from €400 to €460/hd in Kilmallock.
The shippers were very active for calves at New Ross on Saturday where there were over 850 head on offer.
Auctioneer Jim Bushe said the top prices for non-shipping calves were paid for those that were three and four-weeks old.
Shipper-type Friesian bulls made €70 to €120/hd, with the stronger bulls selling for €135 to €265/hd. A range of €130 to €200 took out most.
Continental bulls were a cracking trade, with prices ranging from €240/hd to €500/hd. The bulk of the stock sold for €270 to €350/hd.
Continental heifers sold for €170 to €400/hd, with the majority making €200-300/hd.
There was plenty of farmer interest in Hereford and Angus bulls, with prices varying from €170 to €350/hd. The heifers sold from €160 to €325/hd.
Source: Farm Ireland