Foyle Meats, Donegal, is first out of the blocks this week again, with a 10c/kg jump in quotes across both bullocks and heifers.

This brings its all-in heifer quote to a €5.10/kg base. Its bullock quotes are up to €5.05/kg for those killing out between 300kg and 400kg carcase weights.

General heifer quotes are working off €4.95/kg to €5.00/kg, with bullocks working off €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg, although agents are finding it very hard to buy bullocks at €4.90/kg this week.

Farmers are advised to sell hard when the ball is at their foot. Finished cattle continue to be in short supply and farmers need to use this to their advantage.

Flat pricing is very much in vogue at the moment and any farmer with big numbers of dairy-cross cattle are heading down this route to guarantee no surprises on the grid.

Flat deals for Friesian bullocks have been done this week at €5.10/kg. Flat prices of as high as €5.50/kg have also been paid this week for mixes of R and O grading Aberdeen Angus heifers.

A 30c/kg bonus is available to Aberdeen Angus bullocks and heifers on the grid at the moment.

Cow quotes have also improved, with O and P grading cows getting a lift in the last few days.

The manufacturing beef trade continues to perform very well and this is fuelling a big demand for cow beef.

Larger loads of O and P grading cows have been bought at €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg.

Factories are reporting a big demand from European customers for cow beef, with the cow trade across Europe currently on fire.

O3 grading cows are hitting €5.24/kg in the Netherlands this week.

R grading cows have moved up to €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg, with some factories now paying €5/kg.

Under-16-month bull quotes have also improved, with €5/kg on the table and €5.05/kg base being paid to bigger suppliers.

Over-24-month bulls are moving at €5.05/kg to €5.10/kg, with R grading bulls coming in at €4.95/kg to €5.00/kg.

No questions on weights are being asked at the moment, with all factories paying out of full weights with no penalties on overweight carcases.

Last week’s kill came in 36,495, over 8,000 head more than the corresponding week in 2021.

This year’s kill is already up almost 62,000 head on last year. The cow kill alone is up almost 25,000 on the back of insatiable demand from the manufacturing trade for beef, both across the UK and mainland Europe.

Across the water, it’s a similar positive story, with finished cattle also in short supply.

The cattle kill for the week ending 22 April was down 11% compared with the same week in 2021. The kill for the year to date is down 7%.

R4L heifers are being bought at €5.62/kg incl VAT last week, with O grading cows moving up to €4.70/kg. R3 young bulls are trading at €5.53/kg incl VAT.

Further afield, the R3 steer price for Argentina has broken the €5/kg barrier with a quote of €5.05/kg this week.

Across Europe, beef prices continue to kick on, with the Bord Bia beef market tracker showing the Irish composite price remaining 22c/kg behind the EU price.

NI comment

There has been significant movement in base quotes at NI plants as factory agents compete for stock.

Quotes now stand on 424p/kg (€5.32/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals, but higher prices are available.

Most reports put steers and heifers on a starting price of 436p/kg (€5.47/kg), but regular finishers are commanding prices of 440p to 444p/kg (€5.52 to €5.57/kg) as factories grow increasingly reliant on them for supply.

Cull cows are on a base of 358p/kg (€4.49/kg) for R3 animals, but deals start at 370p/kg (€4.64/kg) and rise to 390p/kg (€4.89/kg) depending on quality.