Factories continue to hold the upper hand in the beef trade this week, with quotes remaining similar to where they were last week, with the exception of cows, which have come under a little pressure.

Factories continue to manage supplies, with all now working at a level that is under usual capacity.

Some are going to great lengths to put some fear into the market, delaying cattle by seven to 10 days in some cases.

Factories are also concentrating on killing contracted cattle at the moment.

This is on the back of a kill of just over 31,000 head of cattle.

Factories continue to try to buy bullocks at €5.20/kg this week, with bigger suppliers and regular customers on €5.25/kg.

Heifers are working off a €5.25/kg base quote, with €5.30/kg going to some of the bigger operators.

This is the base quote before any breed bonuses or loyalty scheme payments are applied, which could be as high as 50c/kg in some instances.

Brave move

In a brave move, some factories have even tried to pull quotes back by 5c/kg this week.

However, this is being met with stiff opposition on the finisher side and it is back to the same story of quoting one price but paying another one when push comes to shove.

The negativity in the trade, which is stemming from Irish plants, is doing serious damage to winter finisher confidence, with more farmers saying this will be their last year finishing cattle during the winter months.

Young bulls

The young bull trade remains steady. U grading bulls range from €5.40/kg to €5.50/kg, with R grades 10c/kg back at €5.30/kg to €5.40/kg.

P and O grades are moving in the main from €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg and €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg respectively.

Under-16-month bulls are being quoted from €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg on the grid, excluding the QA bonus of 12c/kg.

Cow trade

U grading cows are trading anywhere from €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg, with plants most active for top-quality cows continuing to show a keen appetite for the right stock.

Ashbourne Meats in Roscrea is paying €5.30/kg for U grading pedigree Limousin cows, provided they are presented with a pedigree Limousin cert on the day of slaughter.

R grading cows are trading from €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg, with young cows a super trade in the live ring.

O grading cows are at €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg, with P grading cows coming in at €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg.

The negativity in the trade which is stemming from Irish plants is doing serious damage to winter finisher confidence with more farmers saying this will be their last year finishing cattle during the winter months. It looks like winter finishing will be left to factory feedlots with farmer finishers concentrating on a grass based finish. Altering the supply curve to big numbers in autumn where factories need and all round supply to fill contracts could have repercussions for seasonal supply and pricing in the back end.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “The most expensive cattle are those produced by winter finishers.

“Demand for beef is strong in the UK market, with spend up 9% on beef in the past three months and volumes down only marginally by 1.7%,” he said.

NI comment

The beef trade in Northern Ireland appears to have levelled off, with prices holding steady again this week.

Quotes remain on 482p/kg (€5.84/kg inc VAT) for U-3 steers and heifers, but the vast majority of deals are being made around the 500p/kg (€6.05/kg) mark.

Young bulls are making 492p/kg to 498p/kg (€5.96 to €6.03/kg), while cows remain a steady trade, with prices hovering around 415p/kg (€5.03/kg).