Factories have made a move this week to pull beef quotes on the back of increased demand coming as a result of deteriorating ground conditions around the country.

Farmers with heavy finished cattle had to choose between housing or slaughtering, with many choosing the slaughter route this week.

This has seen an increase of almost 1,600 head in the weekly kill and factories have taken their opportunity to heap some pressure on the trade.

Bullocks are back 5c/kg to €4.60/kg to €4.65/kg with heifers back a similar amount. Most quotes for heifers are coming in at €4.65/kg to €4.70/kg this week.

Factory agents are still hungry for cattle but the increased numbers has handed some of the power back when it comes to pricing. Those with numbers and regular customers are also working at the higher end of quotes.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, is still working off €4.85/kg for heifers killing out between 300kg and 400kg, while bullocks are back to €4.80/kg for 300kg to 400kg carcases.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bonuses of between 10c and 30c/kg remain for in-spec bullocks and heifers.

This means that an in-spec Aberdeen Angus bullock or heifer is 50c/kg on top of base price before any grid increases or deductions are applied.

Bulls have held pretty steady, with up to €4.90/kg being paid for U grading under-24-month bulls this week.

R grading bulls are being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.85/kg, with a little more going to regular suppliers and those with numbers.

O and P grading bulls are trading at 5c to 10c/kg less than this, with fat cover being a big determinant on price for some of the poorer-quality bulls.

Cow prices

The manufacturing trade also remains strong, with good demand for fleshed cows from all factories this week and, in turn, prices and quotes remaining relatively stable.

Well-fleshed P+3 cows continue to trade at €3.60/kg to €3.80/kg, depending on weight and quality.

O grading cows are working off €4.10/kg to €4.20/kg, while good R grading cows are coming in at €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg.

U grading cows are being quoted as high as €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg in some factories.

Last week’s kill came in at 35,638, a lift of 1,561 head on the previous week and an increase of 2,763 head on two weeks previous.

Bullocks saw the biggest increase, coming in 1,456 head higher than the previous week. The cow kill was also up, with the heifer kill remaining steady. The young bull kill came in at just 1,066 head, the lowest kill of bulls so far in 2023.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “EU young bull prices have strengthened and when combined with the UK price in the Bord Bia prime export benchmark price, a gap of 37c/kg has opened up with Irish prices.

“Factories can and must do more on beef price to reflect the reality of the market conditions they are selling into.

“Farmers should not be misled by negativity from factory agents - beef markets are strong, supplies are tight and there is capacity for further price increases from the market.”

NI comment

Base quotes on prime cattle at plants in Northern Ireland have increased by 4p to 456p/kg (€5.52/kg inc VAT), but this falls well below the price deals on offer.

Steers and heifers are making 470p to 476p/kg (€5.69 to €5.77/kg) for in-spec animals, with bulls making 462p to 470p/kg (€5.63 to €5.69/kg).

Quotes on cows remain on 352p/kg (€4.26/kg), with deals around 370p/kg (€4.48/kg) for good-quality suckler types.

Exports of cattle from ROI to NI for direst slaughter have more than tripled in the last six months, with 998 exported for direct slaughter last week.