The beef trade has steadied this week, with a few procurement managers backtracking on comments made last week that the price would be lower this week.
The concerted effort from a number of factories to pull prices back seems to have met some resistance on the ground, with farmers sitting back to see what will happen.
Good weather this week has also meant many farmers are concentrating on fieldwork.
On the ground, factory quotes for heifers are working off €4.20/kg in most factories, with €4.25/kg back on the table to a few of the more regular, bigger suppliers.
Bullocks are generally working off €4.15/kg, with €4.20/kg being paid where bigger numbers are involved.
Under-16-month bulls are in very short supply, but any that are being sold are moving at €4.10/kg to €4.15/kg.
Under-24-month bulls are working off €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg, while U grading bulls are being quoted at €4.25/kg to €4.30/kg.
Staffing problems and COVID-19 outbreaks are still an issue in a few factories and this appears to be dictating the demand for beef rather than demand from customers.
The cow trade remains steady, with R grading cows still hitting €3.85/kg to €3.90/kg, with U grading cows making 5c to 10c/kg more.
O grading cows are also still strong, with €3.70/kg to €3.80/kg being paid for fleshed cows.
For any farmer with small numbers of cows to sell, the mart ring is still the place to bring them, with factory agents able to pay a lot more around the mart ring than they are in a farmer’s yard.
Last week’s kill came in at 33,854, with a big kill of bullocks included in that.
There was 17,037 bullocks included in last week’s kill, the highest weekly number of bullocks to be killed so far in 2021.
The heifer kill remains steady at 8,717 head killed last week. There was 6,201 cows killed last week.
With good weather and good milk prices, we will likely see no big flush of cows from the dairy herd for another two or three months.
The young bull kill continues to fall off considerably, with just over 1,300 young bulls killed last week.
This is likely one of the reasons the bullock kill is rising, with a lot of farmers making the switch from bulls to bullocks in 2020. There are almost 20,000 fewer bulls killed in 2021 compared with the same period in 2020.
According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), UK imports of fresh and frozen beef grew in June 2021, lifting 9% when compared on a year-on-year basis.
UK beef imports were up 24% when compared with May imports, with the largest increase coming from Irish imports which were up 600t on the same month in 2020.
Imports from Uruguay stood at 430t during June, while the UK imported 400t of beef from Poland during June.
In the year to date, the UK has imported 100,000t of fresh and frozen beef, 10% less than at the same point in 2020. Beef prices across the water continue to improve.
Processing demand for prime cattle remains strong in Northern Ireland, but prices are unchanged from previous weeks.
Base quotes for U3 animals remain on 394p/kg (€4.89/kg inc VAT), with deals starting around 400p/kg (€4.96/kg).
Steers are moving for 2p to 4p/kg above quotes, with heifers capped around the 406p/kg (€5.03/kg) mark for in-spec animals.
Higher prices are limited to specialist finishers. Cull cows are on an official base quote of 312p/kg (€3.86/kg) for R3 animals, but deals start at 330p/kg (€4.09/kg) for good suckler types.