It’s been a hectic seven days for the beef trade, with quotes for all animals increasing by the day in some cases.
With finished cattle in extremely short supply, some factories have been forced into increasing quotes by as much as 20c/kg this week on the back of big demand for finished cattle.
Foyle Meats, Donegal, is still ahead of the pack with its base price quote of €5.30/kg for heifers and €5.25/kg base price for bullocks killing out between 300kg and 400kg.
The general run of bullock base quotes is ranging from €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg, with heifer base quotes working off €5.15/kg to €5.20/kg.
Cattle are still a little easier bought in the south, with a lot more competition for stock in the northern half of the country.
All sorts of deals are being completed outside of these official quotes, with farmers advised to bargain hard on everything – from breed bonuses to haulage, everything is on the table at the moment.
Flat prices of as high as €5.60/kg are being paid for mixes of O and P grading Aberdeen Angus heifers.
U grading cows are still hitting €5/kg to €5.10/kg, with those with high numbers of good cows able to squeeze a little more out of the market.
R grading cows are trading for as high as €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg, with good O grading cows coming in at €4.65/kg to €4.75/kg.
Well-fleshed P+3 cows have been paid out at €4.55/kg this week when part of a load of cattle.
Agents have a lot of leeway at the moment in cattle purchasing, with strict instructions from procurement managers not to lose any cattle in the coming weeks.
Factory agents are regularly paying in excess of €3.00/kg for heavy well-fleshed cows, which is in excess of €5.20/kg beef price. The mart is still the place to go with small numbers of cows.
Bulls are also in demand, with U grading bulls now up at €5.20/kg to €5.35/kg in a couple of factories, with as high as €5.50/kg being paid to a few large feeders this week.
R grading bulls are working off €5.10/kg to €5.25/kg, depending on flesh cover.
Young bulls are working off €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg, with good demand from most factories.
Last week’s kill came in at 35,726, with the heifer kill gone back up to over 10,000 last week and the bull kill also lifting to over 3,000 for the first time since mid-February.
The first of the spring-born under-16-month bulls are starting to move, with farmers killing earlier this year on account of higher feed costs.
Across the water in Britain, beef price has held steady, with R4L heifers coming in at an equivalent of €5.66/kg.
R grading cows are coming in at the equivalent of €5.10/kg in Scotland.
The kill in Britain is down 6% year on year and with supplies expected to remain tight, the beef trade looks positive for the next few months.
Across Europe the beef trade continues to perform strongly, with U3 young bulls in the Netherlands hitting €5.90/kg excl VAT this week up from €3.70/kg this week last year.
The beef trade in Northern Ireland remains rock solid, with further increases in base quotes for prime cattle and cull cows. Factories are on a base of 428p/kg (€5.37/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals, although deals are tracking well above this level.
Steers are generally moving off farm for around 440p/kg (€5.52/kg), with higher prices on offer to regular sellers.
Farmers with a good supply of heifers are commanding prices of 442p/kg to 446p/kg (€5.54 to €560/kg), while young bulls are making 430p/kg to 440p/kg (€5.40 to €5.52/kg).
Quotes on cows are up 10p/kg to 370p/kg (€4.64/kg) for R3 animals, but deals ranged from 380p/kg to 400p/kg (€4.77 to €5.02/kg).