Factory plans to take cattle back to under €4.80/kg appear to have backfired, with a lot of farmers unwilling to sell at quoted prices of below €4.80/kg.

There was a move late last week to try to pull quotes back to €4.75/kg for bullocks, but this hasn’t worked, with agents meeting strong resistance on the ground from farmers.

A lot of farmers with finished cattle on hand chose to stand out of the market unless the €4.80/kg minimum base price was paid.

One agent I spoke to this week said the good weather had upset factories’ plans and cattle were a little harder to come by this week.

Good weather has meant farmers’ attentions have turned to silage and the harvest, especially in the south of the country, and farmers appear to be under no pressure to sell cattle.

Factory agents are already lining up next week’s cattle a little earlier than usual this week, which is another good sign in the trade.

Bullock prices

Bullocks were being quoted on Monday morning in some factories at €4.75/kg, but this has changed during the week and when deals are struck, they are generally moving at €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg.

Pressure is needed to achieve these prices and farmers are advised to sell hard in the current climate.

It’s a similar story in the heifer category, with some plants quoting as low as €4.80/kg, but €4.85/kg is being paid and as high as €4.90/kg is being paid for heifers this week where larger numbers are involved.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, is still out in front with its quote of €4.90/kg for bullocks and €4.95/kg for heifers, provided both kill out between 300kg and 400kg.

Bonuses for Aberdeen Angus are ranging from 15c to 20c/kg, with the Hereford bonuses coming in at 10c/kg.

Bull prices

Quotes are generally running at €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg base for under-16-month bulls this week.

Those with bigger numbers have been able to squeeze a little more out of the market.

U grading under-24-month bulls are being quoted from €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg, with R grading bulls coming in at €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg.

Cow prices

Quotes this week are running at €4.80/kg for R grading cows, €4.60/kg for O grading cows and €4.30/kg to €4.45/kg for P grading cows.

Wholesale activity has picked up in marts, with €3/kg being paid again for top-quality, young, heavy cows.

Last week’s kill came in at just over 32,000, which was a big kill for a four-day week and points to a positive story on the demand side of the meat business.

Cows saw a big drop-off on the previous week, with factories concentrating on prime cattle for the short week.

There was almost 1,000 less cows killed last week compared with the week before.

The bull kill also dropped close to 500 head last week. The bullock kill remained stable at just over 15,000 bullocks killed last week.

The Bord Bia prime composite tracker shows that the gap has widened again between Irish beef and our main exporting countries to 27c/kg.

Beef prices have stabilised across the EU in recent weeks and the UK market, after a number of weeks of downward pressure, is also back performing well. Despite this, factories continue to apply downward pressure on Irish quotes.

NI comment

Quotes remain steady in Northern Ireland this week, with no change to prime cattle quotes.

Bullocks and heifers are being quoted at 441p/kg to 446p/kg (€5.54 to €5.60/kg incl VAT).

Cows have come under a little pressure this week, with quotes coming in at 390p to 400p/kg (€4.90/kg to €5.02/kg).