The beef trade maintains its steady keel this week, with prices relatively unchanged from last week.

Factories tried their best over the last weeks to pull back the trade, but everybody didn’t move in sync and when that happens, it’s always good news for farmers.

The concerted effort by some did manage to bring quotes back by 5c to 10c/kg across the board.

Factories sometimes wonder why farmers won’t work closer with them, but if they looked at the last three weeks’ antics, they would see why.

Like last year and the year before, factories will buy cattle as cheap as they can, so it’s up to farmers to sell them as dear as they can. Don’t expect this to ever change.

Speaking to agents on the ground, factories are expected to have to increase quotes more in the next few weeks in order to secure cattle.

Weather has also played a big role in keeping supplies at bay, with both grass supplies and ground conditions being of no concern to finishing farmers at the moment.

Some procurement managers have indicated that a change in weather will bring a change to quotes, but with supplies tight, farmers are advised to sell hard in the coming weeks.

Factory agents have also pointed to a tightening in supplies in the coming weeks, with some bigger feeders choosing to stay out of the market given where forward store prices have been for the last few months.

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 BFFs (biggest factory friends).

Breed bonuses have increased in some cases, with 20c/kg now easily achievable for in-spec Aberdeen Angus animals and 15c/kg on the table for Hereford stock.

Bull trade

Bulls are working off €4.10/kg to -€4.15/kg for R grading bulls, with 5c 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 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 came in at 34,069, very similar to the previous two weeks’ kills, which have all been around the 34,000 head mark.

Within that there was 8,834 heifers, 6,269 cows, 16,887 bullocks and 1,444 young bulls. It’s also almost identical to the kill for the same week in 2020 at 34,359 head.

Big numbers continue to move north, with a majority of the 1,644 head that travelled north for the week ending 22 August being finished cattle.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Some factories have been forced to increase quotes this week. With grass supplies good, cattle should only be moved as they become fit.”

NI comment

Finished cattle prices continue to sit relatively steady above the 400p/kg (€4.96/kg inc VAT) barrier, as staffing issues impact on processing demand.

Base quotes remain on 394p/kg (€4.88/kg) for U-3 grading animals, with price deals on par with previous weeks.

Steers are moving from a base of 402p/kg (€4.98/kg), while heifers start around 404p/kg (€5/kg), with higher prices reserved for specialist finishers.

Cull cows are also holding firm, with quotes for R3 animals on 312p/kg (€3.87/kg), with prices realistically starting at 330p/kg (€4.09/kg).