There is a steadier tone to the beef trade this week, with quotes unchanged at a base of €5/kg for bullocks and €5.05/kg for heifers.

There are small numbers of heifers moving at the top end of the market at a base of €5.10/kg from sellers with strong relationships to factories or from producers handling large numbers of choice continental or Angus heifers.

A number of agents comment that there are some early signs of numbers of shed-finished cattle starting to ease.

Throughput of such type of cattle have been strong since mid-April, with some producers taking the decision to feed on cattle in response to persistent inclement weather.

The latest data from the Department of Agriculture shows there were 36,500 cattle slaughtered in April originating from controlled finishing units. This is an increase of 500 head on March levels and 5,500 head higher than April 2023.

Higher dairy cow kill

Figures published last week also show the number of dairy cows slaughtered in the first four months of 2024 increasing by 23,564 head on 2023 volumes and recorded at 114,712.

Cow prices are unchanged, with good R grading trading from €4.70/kg to €4.90/kg, with top prices in a small number of plants specialising in the trade for top-quality cows rising to upwards of €5/kg for young R or U grading cows.

There is significant variation in O grading cows, with prices ranging anywhere from €4.30/kg to €4.55/kg.

P+3 grading cows range from €4.25/kg to €4.35/kg on average, but a 10c/kg window either side of this price range is evident.

Bull trade

Bulls are trading from €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg for R grading bulls, with U grades rising to €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg and O grades falling back to €5/kg.

Some plants are trying to quote below this price for O grading bulls, but good-quality bulls are still trading above €5/kg.

Bulls less than 16 months and trading on the grid are generally being quoted a base of €5/kg to €5.05/kg.