The beef trade remains tentatively poised this week, with farmers and factories waiting to see who will blink first before quotes are issued for next Monday.
There are mixed messages currently coming out of some factories.
Some of the smaller factories have had to increase quotes to get cattle this week, while some of the larger outfits have held quotes where they were last week.
Some of these are indicating a further pull next week, but good weather and field work may cause that plan to be aborted.
The current sunshine could be in finishers’ favour for the next few weeks, as long as we don’t get a prolonged period of drought and grass shortages force cattle back into factory hands.
Bullocks are working off €5.10/kg this week in most factories, with another 5c/kg to be secured out of deals where regular sellers or numbers are involved. Heifers are working off a base of €5.15/kg, again with another 5c to 10c/kg being paid in some cases.
Flat prices for Aberdeen Angus bullocks and heifers are coming in around €5.40/kg to €5.50/kg.
Interestingly, an O= Aberdeen Angus bullock killed this week on the Tirlan/Kepak Twenty 20 club at an average quoted base price of €5.10/kg is making €5.68/kg when all bonuses are counted in.
Twenty 20 club members are also eligible for a 25c/kg bonus on bulls and a 15c/kg bonus on cows.
Larger processors have continued to give preference to larger finishers and contracted cattle over the last three weeks and this means that smaller finishers are still facing some delays in getting animals slaughtered.
Bulls are a steady trade, with U grading bulls back at €5.30/kg and R grading bulls being quoted at €5.10/kg in some instances, but €5.20/kg is achievable.
O and P grading bulls are working off €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg. Under-16-month bull quotes are a similar trade to last week and being quoted from €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg on the grid.
Larger, regular finishers are working 5c to 10c/kg ahead of these quotes.
Just over 3,000 bulls were killed last week – the highest bull kill since the end of January.
The total national bull kill to date continues to fall, with just under 9,000 young bulls killed in 2023 compared with the same period in 2022.
It’s amazing to have such a simple solution to younger slaughter age to help meet our 2030 targets, yet factories continue to lead finishers away from the lowest carbon footprint finishing system there is.
U grading cows are trading anywhere from €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg, with plants most active for top-quality cows continuing to show a keen appetite for the right stock.
R grading cows are trading from €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg. O grading cows are at €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg, with P grading cows coming in at €4.20/kg to €4.40/kg depending on weight and flesh cover.
The manufacturing trade for beef continues to be very strong and that’s holding cow prices relatively stable.
Last week’s kill came in at 31,703 head, a reduction of 200 head on the previous week. The bullock and heifer kill continues to fall, while the cow and bull kill saw increases last week.
There is a mixed trade for finished cattle in Northern Ireland. Base quotes are around 472p/kg (€5.72/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading, with steers and heifers continuing to move around 498p/kg (€6.03/kg).
However, young bulls are under pressure with 486p/kg (€5.89/kg) in most cases. Cull cows are a solid trade with deals still running from 415p to 420p/kg (€5.02 to €5.09/kg).