It’s been a positive start to this week’s beef trade, with a marked difference in the tone from factory agents according to farmers selling cattle for processing this week.

While quotes are generally unchanged, factory agents are anxious for stock, with a few phone calls being made early Monday morning to bump up this week’s supplies.

Bullocks are still being quoted at €4.55/kg in some plants, but the numbers being bought at €4.55/kg is a lot lower this week, with €4.60/kg a lot more common.

It’s a similar story with heifers, with a few processors still chancing their arm at quotes of €4.60/kg.

Most heifers are being bought at €4.65/kg, with €4.70/kg also being paid to some farmers who dug in for a higher quote.

Prime cattle in short supply

Prime cattle continue to be in short supply. Cows are very plentiful, with a large number of under-fleshed dairy cows continuing to be presented at factories. There is also a thought that increases to quotes are likely to take place next week.

Regular customers and those dealing with numbers continue to work 10c to 20c/kg ahead of quoted prices.

The Bord Bia beef price tracker continues to show a big difference between the Irish beef price and that of our main markets. This gap currently stands at 37c/kg or €140/head on a 380kg carcase.

The consistently wide gap over the last number of weeks clearly demonstrates the scope for Irish beef quotes to improve, but factories have been slow to move, with big numbers of cattle coming their way during the month of October.

November and December could be different though, with reports of low numbers of cattle on feed in many yards.

Bull trade

The bull trade remains pretty stable, with €4.80/kg being paid for U grading under-24-month bulls this week.

R grading bulls are being quoted at €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg, with a little more going to regular suppliers and those with numbers.

O and P grading bulls are trading at 5c/kg to 10c/kg less than this.

Under-16-month bulls are generally working off a base price of €4.60/kg to €4.65/kg.

Cow prices

Good, well-fleshed cows remain a solid trade. Light P1 parlour cows remain under pressure, with many factories shying away from the poorer cows this week, with some quoting under €2/kg for parlour cows.

Well-fleshed P+3 cows continue to trade at €3.70/kg to €3.80/kg, depending on weight and quality.

O grading cows are working off €3.90/kg to €4.10/kg, while good R grading cows are coming in at €4.10/kg to €4.30/kg.

U grading cows are being quoted at €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg.