Factories tried their best to pull quotes last week, but, in a lot of cases, the plan didn’t work and quotes have remained relatively stable this week, with many factories unchanged from last week’s prices.

Factory agents are reporting numbers of finished cattle coming on stream to be relatively tight and some factories are a little anxious about next week’s supplies.

With big numbers heading to the National Ploughing Championships, it’s always a quiet week for farming and some have pushed cattle that were booked in this week to next week on the back of this.

Bullocks are working off quotes of between €4.75/kg and €4.80/kg, with heifers being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg base price, with the latter quote being easier to hammer out for those with numbers.

There are some reports of under-fleshed cattle being killed.

Looking at last week’s figures, about 10% or 1,800 bullocks were killed at a fat score of 2= or less. Carcase weights continue to track downwards, with all categories of stock down between 3kg and 8kg carcase weight on last year.

Aberdeen Angus and Hereford are still in demand, with Aberdeen Angus bonuses ranging from 20c to 30c/kg, depending on who you are and what you have. Hereford bonuses are ranging from 10c to 15c/kg.

The tightness in supply has switched a number of factories back to marts to source finished cattle, with a number of agents very active, especially in the west, over the last seven days.

Agents are also reporting very little appetite for winter finishing, with some regular winter finishers switching to weanlings in the last month as a different option.

Feed prices and the lack of any foresight on a beef price for spring 2023 have been cited by many as reasons for not going down the winter finishing road this year.

Bulls are being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg for R and U grading bulls, with a few regular, bigger suppliers still squeezing €5/kg for U grading bulls.

Friesian bulls are being quoted at €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg, depending on weight and flesh cover. Under-16-month bulls are generally working off a base of €4.80/kg.

Cows continue to be the highlight of the trade, with U grading cows coming in at €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg.

R grading cows are being quoted at €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg. However, those with numbers have been able to strike deals 5c to 10c/kg higher than the official quoted prices.

Kill figure

Last week’s kill came in at just over 36,000, with the bullock kill back about 800 head and the heifer kill increasing by 600 head. The cow kill remained stable at 6,500 head.

The 2022 kill is now running 90,481 animals ahead of the 2021 figure. Bord Bia estimates that this figure is likely to settle somewhere around 110,000 extra cattle to be slaughtered this year.

Mart rings

Wholesalers remain very active around mart rings, driving the trade for heavy, well-fleshed continental cows, with in excess if €2.80/kg being paid for some cows this week in marts.

Irish Farmers’ Association livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Market conditions for beef remain strong. There is capacity in the market for higher beef prices, with a gap of 30c/kg now opened up between the prime Irish composite and prime export benchmark price, which factories must immediately move to close.”

NI comment

Base quotes are holding at 426p/kg (€5.16p/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals.

As has been the case for several weeks, steers are moving around 438p/kg (€5.30/kg), with heifers on 440p/kg (€5.33/kg) for regular finishers.

Quotes on young cows remain on 365p/kg (€4.42/kg) for R3 grading animals, with deals on 380p/kg (€4.60/kg).