Supplies of finished cattle on the ground remain tight, with agents reporting a lot of smaller beef finishers with very low numbers of cattle in sheds.

Meal merchants are also reporting very low levels of finishing ration moving out to finishing farms.

Quotes are still working off €3.70/kg to €3.75/kg for bullocks and €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg going for heifers.

There is more money available for higher numbers and there is also more money available the further north you go this week, with Foyle Meats offering an extra bonus of 10c/kg for animals killing out between 300kg and 380kg carcase weight.

Young bulls

Young bulls are moving off €3.70/kg for R grading bulls and €3.80/kg for U grading bulls, with very little talk about carcase weight limits.

Under-16-month bulls are in short supply, but factories are generally working off €3.65/kg to €3.70/kg base price.

Cow trade

Cows have been the big mover this week, with €3.00/kg now available for P grading cows and €3.10/kg being quoted for O grading cows.

Good R grading cows are generally moving off €3.30/kg, with more available for higher numbers of well-fleshed suckler-bred cows.

January is a strong month for manufacturing beef, with credit card bills switching shoppers from the steak shelf to the mince shelf.

With anticipated widespread lockdowns across Europe, restaurant closures will have an impact on demand.

However, unlike the first lockdowns, many are now fully geared up for take-away and delivery services.

This reduction in demand will be offset by the increased retail demand expected in the next few weeks as households continue to dine at home.

Retail demand

Industry sources have confirmed that it been a really strong period for beef sales in all of the large supermarket multiples, both in Ireland and across the water in the UK.

There was some concern that the beef that was stockpiled in the UK in anticipation of a hard Brexit would be used by factories to hold back prices.

However, given the current retail demand that exists in the UK, this beef has been sold.

This huge retail demand has put pressure on Aberdeen Angus and Hereford stock, with bonuses of as high as 35c/kg being paid for suitable stock killing out over 300kg.

2020 kill

The 2020 beef kill finished over 40,000 head higher than the 2019 kill.

At the beginning of 2020, there were some forecasting the kill to be down in the region of 40,000 to 50,000 head.

However, this didn’t materialise and the kill actually finished up on 2019 figures.

The 2020 kill finished up at 1,777,293 head, up 40,008 on the 2019 figure of 1,737,285 head, which was down 60,000 head on the 2018 figure.

The 2021 kill is expected to come in lower than the 2020 kill, with a particular drop in numbers for the first six months of 2021.

Brexit: your questions answered

Over the coming weeks, the Irish Farmers Journal will be answering your queries on Brexit, the changes it will mean for farmers and how it will impact on agricultural businesses.

What do you want to know about the changes? Let us know here: