The first month of 2017 shows cattle prices broadly stable across the world, with movements either way just by a few cents per kilo.

Irish R3 steer prices increased by just 2c/kg over the month of January, from €3.69/kg at the start of the month to €3.71c/kg at the end of the month. Britain remained the highest value steer market of our export destinations, though in euro equivalent there was a fall of 5c/kg from €4.23/kg down to €4.18/kg.

Currency fluctuations

Currency fluctuation impacts on any price comparison with non-euro countries. The US has been trading within a 5c/kg range over the month, opening at €3.96/kg equivalent and closing at €3.94/kg, 23c/kg ahead of Irish prices. Australian beef prices have been trading at record highs as well, between the equivalent of €3.67/kg and €3.97/kg during January, with the kill in 2016 at its lowest in 20 years because of drought.

On the continent, French prices for R3 young bulls have been tracking Irish steer prices for several weeks and were between €3.72/kg and €3.73/kg for the entire month of January. German prices have been running higher for R3 young bulls, opening the month at €3.92/kg, and closed the month 8c/kg down at €3.84/kg. In Italy, prices on R3 young bulls ranged between €3.92/kg and €4.13/kg, the highest in the Eurozone.

Different heifer markets

Heifer prices in Ireland tend to run ahead of steer prices and in January traded between €3.82/kg and €3.85/kg. There isn’t a premium on heifers over steers in Britain, with virtually the same price being paid each week, starting at €4.24/kg and dropping to €4.20/kg equivalent by the end of the month.

French heifer prices have a similar pattern to Ireland, trading between €3.87/kg and €3.89/kg in January. Germany isn’t much of a heifer market, with reported prices there well below the equivalent young bull prices at between €3.62/kg and €3.64/kg. Italy, on the other hand, has always been a strong heifer market, though prices have fallen from €4.24/kg at the start of the month to €4.01/kg in the third week of January.

Irish prices comparing well for cows

Cows are the one area where Irish factory prices compare with the best in Europe. In January, prices for O3 grading cows traded between €2.97/kg and €3.00/kg, with only France slightly ahead, trading between €2.98/kg and €3.03/kg in January.

Britain, while almost 50c/kg ahead of Ireland on steer prices, is actually 15c/kg below Ireland on cows, trading between €2.79/kg and €2.83/kg equivalent during January.

German cows traded between €2.71/kg and €2.81/kg in January, while in Italy prices were between €2.54/kg and €2.56/kg. One to note with interest is Australia, where cow prices traded between €3.07/kg and €3.35/kg, though there is an element of live weight prices included in their reported figures.

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