Factories tried their best last week to spook the trade and flush out more cattle before the weather broke, but the plan hasn’t worked and quotes remain very steady this week.
There was talk towards the end of last week that quotes would be coming back by 5c/kg this week, but that hasn’t materialised and most factories remain as hungry as ever for cattle this week.
Rain has taken the pressure off grass supplies in the south and, in turn, farmers are in no rush to offload cattle.
Supply issues in the UK last week due to the COVID ‘pingdemic’ led to increased orders filtering through for Irish beef early last week.
The staffing crisis has been averted by the British government in their decision to make food production staff exempt from 10-day isolation.
Staffing is still a huge issue in meat plants both in the UK and Ireland, with many plants working under capacity due to staffing shortages.
Heifers continue to be quoted at €4.30/kg to €4.35/kg, with Foyle Meats, Donegal, remaining at the top of the quotes, with €4.40/kg available for heifers killing out between 300kg and 400kg.
Bullocks are working off €4.25/kg to €4.30/kg, with Foyle Meats, Donegal, again top of the quotes paying €4.35/kg for bullocks killing out at 300kg to 400kg carcase.
Aberdeen Angus and Hereford stock are still in demand, with flat deals of as high as €4.80/kg being paid for those with numbers.
On-the-grid bonuses of as high as 20c/kg are being paid for Aberdeen Angus stock.
Cows remain in demand, with R grading cows being quoted at €3.85/kg to €3.95/kg this week.
U grading cows are on 5c to 10c/kg more, with €4.00 available in some factories for U grading cows.
O grading cows are coming in at €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg, while P grading cows are around the €3.60/kg to €3.70/kg mark, depending on numbers and flesh cover.
The mart trade continues to exceed factory returns, with the equivalent of €4.20/kg to €4.40/kg beef price being paid for some top-quality cows in marts.
Young bulls are being quoted €4.20/kg to €4.25/kg on the grid, with in-spec U+ young bulls now coming into €4.61/kg on the grid.
Older bulls are working off €4.25/kg to €4.30/kg for R grading bulls and €4.35/kg to €4.40/kg for U grading bulls.
Last week’s kill
Last week saw the kill drop by just over 600 head to 32,939. That’s almost 2,500 fewer than the corresponding week in 2020.
The biggest drop last week came in the cow category, with 895 fewer cows killed compared with the previous week.
After seven weeks of declining numbers, the young bull kill increased last week by 100 head.
The bullock and heifer kill remains relatively stable, with 14,115 bullocks and 8,650 heifers killed last week.
IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Cattle supplies remain very tight and farmers should bargain hard when the ball is at their foot. The British market saw gains last week on the back of reduced supply and Irish factories should be passing on these price increases to farmers.”
Beef prices are holding steady in Northern Ireland again this week, with quotes sitting on 394p/kg (€4.88/kg including VAT) for U-3 grading animals.
Steers are generally moving from 400p to 404p/kg (€4.89 to €5.01/kg) for regular finishers, with heifers at similar levels and rising towards 410p/kg (€5.08/kg) at the upper end of the market.
Staff shortages in plants is helping processors to manage throughput better, but agents are still keen for stock. Cull cows have also steadied, with R3 quotes on 312p/kg (€3.86/kg) with deals of 330p to 340p/kg (€4.09 to €4.22/kg) on offer.