It’s always a positive sign to see the beef kill take a lift and prices staying steady and that’s exactly what has happened this week.

Factories will still spin the story that increased numbers are coming to them, but the facts are that it’s actually the factories that are looking for stock this week.

Prices have continued their positive trend, with bullocks generally being bought at €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg.

Where a lower quote of €4.15 is held to, there is generally another twist in the deal, such as 5c/kg extra for an Aberdeen Angus or Hereford bonus or haulage is thrown in for free.

Heifers are working off €4.25/kg in the main, with a few larger suppliers working with bigger numbers managing to squeeze €4.30/kg out of some factories.

Donegal Meats is still top of the pile with its quote of €4.35/kg when the bonus for 300kg to 400kg carcases is included.

It’s understood that increased orders from the UK in recent days have helped keep factories anxious for cattle.

October and November is being seen as a pinch point for supply, as very few cattle have been housed yet for further feeding. This could mean a lull in supplies before cattle start coming out of sheds in December again.

Bull trade

Bulls are working off €4.10/kg to €4.20/kg for R grading bulls, with 5c to 10c/kg extra going for U grading bulls.

Dairy-cross bulls grading O are working off €4.05/kg. Younger under-16-month bulls are working off €4.10/kg to €4.15/kg on the grid. The bull kill dropped to 1,484 bulls last week.

Cow trade

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.

P grading cows are generally being bought at €3.60/kg to €3.65/kg.

Last week’s kill came in at 35,860, a rise of 1,634 on the previous week’s kill.

The biggest rise came in the heifer category, with just over 700 extra heifers killed last week.

The cow kill also saw an increase, with an extra 700 cows killed last week. The bullock kill remains high at 17,610 head slaughtered last week.

Across the water, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has reported that the UK imported 19,800t of fresh and frozen beef in July, which was up 9% on the June 2021 imports and up 15% on July 2020.

In terms of beef, imports from Ireland to the UK grew by 9% year on year. The ADHB predicts that the beef trade will continue to perform strongly for the rest of 2021.

Commenting on the cattle trade, IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “The prime export benchmark price, which reflects the strength of the market conditions in our key beef markets, has now passed the Irish price by 2c/kg to rest at €4.12/kg, compared with the Irish price excluding VAT of €4.10/kg.”

He added: “Cattle numbers are tight and will remain tight for the year bolstered by strong live exports of forward store and slaughter-fit cattle to Northern Ireland to date this year.

“Demand is strong and beef prices must push on to maximise returns to farmers from very favourable market conditions.”

NI comment

It’s steady as she goes in regards to beef prices north of the border.

Base quotes on prime cattle are holding at 394p/kg (€4.89/kg inc VAT) for U3 grading animals, but cattle continue to move at prices just above 400p/kg (€4.96/kg) and under the 405p/kg (€5.02/kg) mark.

Out-of-spec cattle are being bought at official base price. Cows are holding on a quote of 312p/kg (€3.87/kg) for R3 animals, but deals are closer to 330p/kg (€4.09/kg).