Factories have tried to apply some pressure to the trade without much success.
It’s being met with resistance on the ground and it may be difficult for factories to apply any more pressure and get cattle at the same time.
Some factories have tried to buy bullocks at €4.15/kg this week, but, in reality, are getting very little bought at that money.
Other factories have maintained their quotes at €4.20/kg for bullocks and €4.25/kg for heifers, with €4.30/kg still being paid to a few regular suppliers with numbers.
Some factories are managing to buy small numbers of heifers at €4.20/kg.
A couple of things are playing into their hands. February- and March-born cattle are coming up to 30 months old in the few weeks and this always increases the kill a little as farmers look to get animals slaughtered to maximise bonuses.
The other element is that cattle are killing well off grass, with no issues with fat scores, so farmers are probably taking advantage of this and drafting a little earlier than usual.
This should have positive implications for later on in the year when numbers are already expected to be tighter.
There is another school of thought that factories need to take a little bit of heat out of the market ahead of their feedlot buyers heading back to the sales rings again this autumn.
COVID staffing issues are also putting pressure on some factories to maintain throughput, which could explain the cooling off that some agents experienced last week.
Beef demand is still strong and the move flies in the face of what is happening in our main market in Britain.
After a period of levelling off, beef prices have started to edge upwards in the last two weeks, with R4L steers showing a further improvement this week to €5.18/kg including VAT.
Sterling currency has also strengthened in recent days to hit its strongest point against the euro since February 2020. Beef prices across some of our main EU export markets also remain strong.
The young bull trade remains steady at €4.20/kg for R grading bulls and €4.30/kg for U grading bulls. Under-16-month bulls are working off €4.25/kg on the grid.
The cow trade remains steady, with R grading cows still hitting €3.85/kg to €3.90/kg and 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 good suckler types.
Wholesalers have kept a floor under the cow price, with the mainstream factories not being able to exert as much control over the cow price as they have done with the bullock and heifer prices.
Last week’s kill dropped to 30,972, a drop of just over 3,000 head on the previous week.
Some of this will have been down to the bank holiday Monday being taken out and factories killing an extra day last week to compensate for this.
The heifer kill last week was the lowest of the year for heifers at 7,771 head.
Cows also dropped to 5,878 head, while bullocks came in at 15,314 head, a drop of just over 1,000 on the previous week.
The young bull kill has dried up completely, with 1,390 young bulls killed last week, down from 1,738 head the previous week.
The beef trade is Northern Ireland is holding steady, with no real movement in quotes or price deals.
Base quotes on U3 cattle remain on 392p to 394p/kg (€4.86 to €4.89/kg inc VAT). Steers are moving off farm from 400p to 404p/kg (€4.96 to €5.01/kg), while heifers are faring better with an extra 2p to 6p/kg on offer for regular finishers with bigger numbers.
Processing demand for cull cows is also good, with good-quality R grading cows making 330p to 340p/kg (€4.09-€4.22/kg).