The beef trade remains in a positive position this week, with no changes to quotes.

What has changed is factory appetite for stock, with a lot of factory agents very active for stock around the country this week.

Top of the list is Aberdeen Angus cattle, with Hereford cattle also in demand.

Some factory agents are offering flat prices of as high as €4.60/kg for in-spec stock, which, for dairy-bred stock, would be a much better deal for farmers as opposed to going on the grid.

The majority of dairy-bred stock will come in between and O- and O+, so selling on the grid means a deduction of between 12c/kg and 48c/kg depending on fat scores, so choose the selling route wisely. Any breed bonuses on dairy-beef cattle are quickly eroded by the grid.

Bullocks

Bullocks continue to trade off €4.15/kg, with €4.20/kg being paid to the bigger, more regular suppliers. The higher price is also being paid to secure heifers where both are included on a load. Heifers are in demand, with €4.20/kg now at the very base of the market and €4.25/kg being paid to the larger, regular suppliers.

Donegal Meats is still working off a 10c/kg bonus for in-spec stock between 300kg and 400kg carcase weight.

Bull trade

There is a little more bite in the bull trade. Bulls are working off €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg for R grading bulls, with 5c/kg to 10c/kg extra going for U grading bulls.

Younger under-16-month bulls are working off €4.10/kg to €4.15/kg on the grid.

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/kg 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 €3.55/kg to €3.65/kg.

Last week’s kill remained relatively unchanged at 34,474 head.

The young bull kill continues to decline, with just 1,374 young bulls killed last week.

The bullock kill was up a little to 17,603, while the heifer kill also saw a slight rise to 9,119. The cow kill slipped last week to 5,779 cows.

Good weather has meant farmers have been under no pressure to offload stock and with a steady kill over the last few weeks, no glut of stock is expected, even if the weather does change.

Brazilian exports

The news from Brazil over the weekend that it has suspended beef exports to China is big news in the global beef trade.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out and Ireland will be watching on with interest.

Ireland has been locked out of the Chinese market for the last 18 months as a result of an atypical BSE case found in a cow in spring 2020.

I would suspect that Brazil won’t be locked out of the lucrative Chinese market for two years, like Ireland. It is must too big to lock out for that length of time. The likelihood of any implications for the Irish trade is very slim.

“The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and the Government must now redouble their efforts to secure an immediate return of Irish beef to the Chinese market,” said IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden.

NI comment

There is no movement in beef prices in Northern Ireland again this week, with base quotes holding on 394p/kg (€4.88/kg inc VAT) for U3 grading animals.

Deals on in-spec steers are generally 402p to 404p/kg (€4.98 to €5/kg), while heifers are making 406p/kg (€5.03/kg).

Cull cows are holding on a base of 312p/g (€3.87/kg) for R3 animals, but the majority of deals start on 330p/kg (€4.09/kg) for good-quality suckler types.