The beef trade remains firm this week, with factories still keen for finished cattle supplies.

A number of factories are still trying to put together this week’s kill, with phonecalls being made late last week and early Monday morning to piece together this week’s kill.

Heifers are still in the shortest of supply, with a number factories short for retail orders.

Heifer quotes

Heifers are generally being quoted at €3.85/kg, with €3.90/kg being paid by some in order to get supplies.

Bullocks are being quoted at €3.80/kg, with €3.85/kg being paid where heifers are forming part of a load.

There is also a little more money available in the northwest, where Foyle Meats, Donegal, is offering a bonus of 10c/kg on carcases killing out between 300kg and 380kg. This is on top of QA bonuses and grid bonuses.

Young bulls

Young bulls are also back in demand after a few months of a take-them-or-leave-it attitude with factories.

U grading bulls are moving off €3.90/kg, with 5c/kg more going for larger regular suppliers.

R grades are generally trading at €3.80/kg.

Cow trade

The cow trade also remains stable. Agents are still very active in marts sourcing factory-fit cows.

Farmers with two or three cows to sell should weigh up the mart option for selling.

With a number of different factories now attending different special dry cow sales, the better option could be the mart.

P+3+ cows are still trading at €3.00/kg to €3.05/kg, with O grading cows moving at €3.10/kg to €3.15/kg.

Well-fleshed young R and U grading suckler-bred cows are still hitting top quotes of €3.40/kg to €3.50/kg.

Latest kill data

The latest kill data from the Department of Agriculture and Food show that the heifer kill reduced by 641 heifers in the week ending 16 January.

The young bull kill also saw a dramatic fall for that week, with 1,812 fewer young bulls slaughtered compared with the week before.

Figure 1 shows the breakdown of the different categories of animals killed compared with the same week in 2020.

Overall, the kill reduced by 1,029 head to 31,990 for the week ending 16 January (from 33,019 the week before).

Across the water, the AHDB reports that the beef price has increased in the last few weeks.

The latest data for the week ending 16 January shows that R4L steers have moved up to €4.51/kg. That’s an increase of 7c/kg on the previous week.

That means the current price differential between Ireland and the UK for a 350kg R grading steer is €175/head.

The English beef price is currently running 54c/kg ahead of the same period last year and running 39c/kg ahead of the five-year average.