Factory agents are a little more anxious for stock this week, as market demand has seen a lift over the last two weeks.

It’s understood that a number of planned supermarket promotions targeting the back-to-school market are being planned for early September and this is leading to a particular lift in demand for manufacturing beef.

Factory agents are quoting €4.80/kg on Wednesday morning for bullocks, with a little extra going for those dealing with bigger numbers.

Heifers are generally being bought at €4.85/kg, with €4.90/kg also being paid where pressure is being applied and where numbers are involved.

Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle are in demand, with bonuses of 20c/kg for Aberdeen Angus cattle being paid and bonuses of 10c/kg for in-spec Hereford cattle.

Cow prices have also steadied, with R and U grading cows ranging in price from €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg.

O grading cows are back at €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg, while there is a wide range in what is being quoted for P grading cows, with anything from €4.30/kg to €4.50/kg being quoted depending on weight and flesh cover.

Some exceptional prices are still being paid in marts by factory agents and farmers with small numbers are advised to weigh up their options for mart versus factory.

Bull trade

The bull trade is firm, with €4.80/kg being paid for under-24-month R grading bulls.

Some specialised bull finishers have been able to squeeze €4.95/kg for bulls this week, with O grading bulls working off €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg.

Black and white P grading dairy bulls are being quoted at €4.50/kg to €4.55/kg, but are in short supply.

A big gap has opened up between the Irish beef price and the UK beef price in the last three weeks.

That gap now stands at 41c/kg or almost €160 more being paid to UK farmers on a 380kg carcase.

A 17c/kg gap exists between the Irish bullock price and the EU young bull price.

Both the EU and UK beef price bottomed out at €4.91/kg and €5.14/kg respectively at the end of July, but have since rallied to the current bullock price of €4.98/kg in the EU and €5.22/kg in the UK.

Irish beef prices peaked at €5.32/kg in mid-June and since then have been falling until they steadied over the last two weeks.

Last week’s kill came in at 34,500, up almost 2,500 head on the previous four-day week.

All categories of stock saw increases, with both the bullock and heifer kill up around 100 head each. The cow kill remained steady at 6,231 head.

A total of 1,063,783 cattle have been processed during 2022 to date, an increase of 90,947 head from the corresponding period in 2021.

Bord Bia estimates that there will be an extra 110,000 to 120,000 cattle slaughtered in 2022.

Across the water in Britain, the trade has steadied in recent weeks, with R4L heifers still trading around 447p/kg (€5.55/kg incl VAT).

R3 young bulls are coming in at 434p/kg (€5.39/kg incl VAT).

Northern comment

There is more life in the beef trade this week in Northern Ireland.

Quotes at two of the plants have increased by 2p and 4p/kg, as agents look for supplies to fill orders.

The best quote is at 430p/kg (€5.34/kg incl VAT) for both steers and heifers.

Reports from farmers suggest that steers and bulls are generally making close to 440p/kg (€5.47/kg incl VAT) for U-3 grades, with heifers pushing into 442p/kg (€5.49/kg incl VAT), with slightly more available to regular suppliers

Meanwhile, animals moved for direct slaughter to Northern Ireland last week was down slightly at 471 head.