Factories have continued to try to apply pressure to the trade this week, but prices seem to have bottomed out, with similar quotes on offer this week as were available last week.

Bullocks are working off €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg, while heifers are working off €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, is quoting €4.90/kg for bullocks killing out between 300kg and 400kg, with heifers at the same weight being quoted at €4.95/kg base.

A big gap has opened up between those dealing with numbers and factory aligned feeders and those dealing with smaller numbers or the traditional farmer killing cattle a few times a year.

This is clearly evident in marts, where factory agents are paying way in excess of what beef cattle are making in the factory. Agents have been sent out this week again to source numbers in marts where numbers are tight.

Speaking to some finishers on Monday, there is mounting frustration among farmers around factory tactics at the moment.

All finishers have seen their production costs spiral in recent months, with meal costs heading for €450/t on some farms.

Paying this for meal and seeing €200/head being wiped off the price of finished cattle in the last month isn’t inspiring confidence in winter finishing for the back end.

That €200/head is now the average differential between an animal slaughtered in Britain and Ireland this week.

British trade

If anything, the trade across the water has improved in recent days, with factory-fit cattle in big demand.

British R4L heifers are currently working off €5.65/kg including VAT. If we look at the Bord Bia prime benchmark price, we also see a 5c/kg improvement in the last few weeks, with the Irish price falling in the same period.

Farmers are advised not to panic in any way. By all means, kill cattle when they are fit, but given the situation where cattle numbers are, the ball is at the farmers’ foot when it comes to securing better quotes.

There is a wide range in bull quotes, with some factories trying to buy under-16-month bulls on Monday morning at €4.80/kg and others quoting €4.90/kg on the grid.

U grading under-24-month bulls are being quoted from €4.95/kg to €5.05/kg, with R grading bulls coming in at €4.85/kg to €4.90/kg.

Cow prices

Some factories are very hungry for cows, while others are concentrating more on prime cattle. The advice is to shop around.

Quotes this week are running at €4.80/kg for R grading cows, €4.60/kg for O grading cows and €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg for P grading cows.

Specialist producers and those dealing with numbers are still working off 10c to 20c/kg more than these quotes.

Last week’s kill came in at just over 33,000 head, which was very similar to the previous week’s kill, with no big changes across any stock category.

There is now just over 81,000 extra cattle killed so far this year compared with 2021.

Looking at the cow kill, there has been an extra 5,000 suckler cows killed for the first six months of 2022, with an extra 28,000 dairy cows slaughtered during the same period compared with 2021.

NI trade

Base quotes have steadied in Northern Ireland after factories made cuts last week. Prices on prime cattle have eased slightly, coming back below 450p/kg (€5.58/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals with steers and heifer generally moving around 446p to 448p/kg (€5.53 to €5.55/kg).

Young bulls have slipped to 436p/kg (€5.40/kg). Cows are a solid trade with prices generally around 400p/kg (€4.96/kg).