It’s shaping up to be another very steady week for the beef trade.
Factories are still very eager to do business and agents leaving cattle behind them over the last few weeks is basically unheard of.
Finished cattle remain in very tight supply, with factories continuing to pull out of contract price feeders to maintain supply.
Heifers are working off €4.90/kg to €5.00/kg base, with Foyle Meats, Donegal, still out in front.
Bullocks are working off €4.85/kg to €4.90/kg, with a little more going to those with numbers.
Some factories are operating a blind eye on minimum level fat scores and grading for quality assurance bonuses, with some paying out 20c/kg on P+ and O- cattle.
U grading cows are still hitting €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg, with those with high numbers of good cows able to squeeze a little more out of the market.
Agents have pretty much been given a free hand when it comes to cow prices. If there is a load of heifers or bullocks coming with them, it's easy to lift the price by 20c to 30c/kg on the cows to secure the load.
R grading cows are trading for as high as €4.50/kg, with good O grading cows coming in at €4.40/kg.
Well-fleshed P+3 cows have been paid out at €4.30/kg this week just to secure other cattle as part of a load.
The mart is still the best choice for good-quality cows if you are selling small numbers.
Most factories have active agents competing for stock in marts around the country and some very big prices (close to €3/kg) being paid in some cases for the right type of stock.
Bulls are also in demand, with U grading bulls now up at €5/kg in a couple of factories. R grading bulls are working off €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg, depending on flesh cover.
Under-16-month bulls are working off €4.85/kg to €4.90/kg base price.
Kill numbers are considerably up, with 50,000 extra cattle killed so far in 2022.
There has been a record number of cows killed in the first three and a half months of 2022. Just over 21,000 extra cows have been killed.
Dairy farmers have been using the opportunity of high cull cow prices to offload older cows and those not performing. The market for young dairy stock hasn’t been great and this has led some to keep more heifers as replacements and offload cows instead.