Heifers are moving now at €3.90/kg in a number of locations, with bullocks moving up to €3.85/kg in most factories.

Some factories are holding out at €3.85/kg, but strong sellers have been able to squeeze €3.90/kg out of the market.

Mixed loads of bullocks and heifers have also been quoted €3.90/kg to get the cattle.

Some factories are also offering deals on haulage and no weight restrictions to get cattle.

Huge retail demand means Aberdeen Angus continue to be the breed of choice, with processors trying to fill retail orders at the moment, with some factories offering a 25c/kg bonus on suitable cattle.

There is also some competition entering the bull market

New retail contracts obtained by some processors in the last few months have meant competition is high for in-spec Angus-bred stock.

Under-24-month bulls have also moved up a gear, with €3.85/kg now on offer for R grading bulls and €3.90/kg to €3.95/kg on the table for U grading bulls.

There is also some competition entering the bull market, something that was lacking this last few months, with a number of factories nipping at each other’s supply base to get bulls.

There is a little more appetite in the cow market also.

Factories have injected serious life into the mart trade

Northern demand continues to be high in marts, along with a number of the southern independent factories very active buying fleshed cows in the last week.

P+3+ cows are trading from €3.00/kg to €3.05/kg. O grading cows are moving at €3.10/kg to €3.15/kg, while well-bred suckler cows are trading at €3.40/kg to €3.50/kg and higher where top-quality young cows are involved.

Factories have injected serious life into the mart trade, with agents very active all week for both finished cattle supplies and store cattle for further feeding.

Factories are currently competing against each other around the ring and this has meant that prices being paid are again this week above what these animals are worth in factories. Farmers should be doing the sums on the best route for stock

Numbers tightening

At last Friday’s Bord Bia meat marketing seminar, Bord Bia estimated that there could be 80,000 fewer cattle to be slaughtered in 2021.

On 1 November on the Department of Agriculture AIMS database, there were 56,000 fewer male cattle aged 24 to 36 months and 23,000 fewer female cattle aged between 24 and 36 months.

The prime export benchmark price has strengthened in the past week

This means supplies of finished cattle should remain for the first half of 2021.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “The prime export benchmark price has strengthened in the past week, reflecting the market conditions in our key export markets. Beef prices need to push on to reflect the positive market conditions that are prevailing.”

NI comment

Processing demand for prime cattle remains rock solid in Northern Ireland, with more plants moving on to a base quote of 376p/kg (€4.40/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals.

Farmers report in-spec steers and young bulls moving at 384p (€4.50/kg) for regular sellers.

Farmers selling heifers report that 388p/kg (€4.54/kg) is widely available, with upwards of 394p/kg (€4.61/kg) payable on butcher-type animals at the upper end.

Cull cows are a solid trade, with base quotes holding at 275p/kg (€3.22/kg) for R3 grading animals. However, higher price deals are available to regular sellers.