Current beef prices are sitting over €1/kg behind where they need to be for winter finishers to cover their costs this year, a Teagasc open day at the suckler unit at Kildalton College heard on Friday.

Winter finishing has become a specialised game, with only those with high numbers of finished cattle able to secure price contracts from factories.

This has meant a mass exodus out of the winter finishing business by smaller farmer finishers on the back of big losses being made on cattle over the last number of years.

Speaking at the event, Teagasc adviser Terry Carroll said: “While the budgets don’t include a margin or any cost for labour, I would be saying farmers need to be including €100/head in there to cover that. That’s 27c/kg on top of the breakeven price which we have published. Nobody is expecting anyone to work for nothing in any job.”

The figures used saw a 530kg continental bullock being purchased at €1,568 in October and finishing him at 670kg liveweight (375kg carcase weight).

Total costs come to €582/head, which leaves a beef price of over €6/kg to make a margin on the investment made.

The spring 2024 beef price needed for finishing Friesian bullocks is €5.40/kg. Teagasc’s finishing budgets will be published at the National Ploughing Championships next week.