Farmers could lose up to €180/head by sending cattle to one factory over another, exclusive Irish Farmers Journal analysis has found.

The difference between the best- and worst-paying factories for cattle varied across all grades.

The price difference was most extreme for P+3= grade heifers in 2017, with a difference of €181.96.

This price gap is based on the price per kilo paid and applied to an average heifer carcase weight in 2017 of 312kg, which was just under 2kg lower than the average in 2016.

For young bulls, the price difference between the top and bottom factories was between €67.89 and €127.75 for the average young bull.

Steers had the smallest spread of prices between the factories, with the gap here ranging between €48.08 and €70.25.

There was a price difference of €39.75 and €117.37 between the factories for cows.

Not all cattle with the same grade are equal in the marketplace, with the value ultimately decided by what markets the beef from each carcase can be sold to.


Although not as big an issue in 2017 as it was in the previous year, factories paying more tend to have tighter specifications on residency, quality assurance and weight.

The Irish Farmers Journal has also ranked the performance of each price-reporting factory in 2017 across U=, R=, O= and P+3 grades for steers, heifers, young bulls and cows using data provided by the Department of Agriculture.

The data also includes the quality payment system (QPS) payment of 12c/kg.

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