Cattle price pressure is 'opportunistic'
Factories are trying to apply even more pressure on prices, a move that is being criticised as opportunistic by the IFA.

Beef quotes on Friday show factories trying to implement further reductions on steer and heifer base prices.

Some factories are trying to reduce the base price for steers to €3.95/kg and for heifers to €4.05/kg, for cattle changing hands next week. This follows a 5c/kg reduction earlier in the week, with steers reducing from €4.05/kg to €4.00/kg, and heifers from €4.15/kg to €4.10/kg.

The price pressure has been criticised by IFA livestock chair Angus Woods, who described the move by factories as “opportunistic”.

“Feeders should strongly resist any price pressure from the factories,” he advised. “There is no beef in store and market demand remains strong.”

Woods is calling for Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to react.

“There is no market basis or justification for any reduction in cattle prices,” he added. “

In the last week, Bord Bia has highlighted the very strong beef market returns for factories in 2017 and the extremely strong returns on offal and hide values.

“Minister Creed needs to call an immediate beef forum and make it abundantly clear to the factories that they must return a fair and viable price to farmers.”

He also pointed to steady prices in our main export markets as providing an opportunity for higher prices to be returned to Irish farmers.

“Over the autumn, UK beef prices have remained very strong and EU prices have strengthen significantly, up 30c to 40c/kg on previous year levels,” Woods said.

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A guide to special and upcoming sales in the coming weeks
a guide to special and upcoming sales in the coming weeks around the country.
  • Gort Thurs 19 July: Special sale of autumn born wealings at 6pm.
  • Castlerea Thurs 19 July: Usual cattle sale at 11am, cattle to be penned by 10.30am.
  • Headford Sat 21 July: Special sale of autumn-born weanlings. Sat 28 July: Special sale of continental cattle. Sat 11 Aug: Sheep show and sale.
  • Carlow Mon 23 July: Usual cattle sale.
  • Kilcullen Wed 25 July: All classes of cattle.
  • Raphoe Thurs 26 July: Dairy clearance sale; 11 second-calvers, eight third-calvers and eight fourth-calvers, served 18 May onwards to AI Friesian.
    Ringside comment: small sales and drought still hitting prices
    Sales in the last week have been very small in many parts of the country. While good quality cattle are holding firm, plainer cattle and cull cow prices are under pressure.

    The past week has seen much smaller sales across the country. Mart managers have commented on the unusually low throughput.

    Demand has been quite strong for forward bullocks and heifers and for all better quality store cattle. However, dairy-bred cattle are being met with continued weak demand and a variable trade with noticeably less buyer demand in the past few weeks. These prices are artificially low on account of the drought. Cull cows have taken a big hit in the past few weeks. Mart managers have said that demand for store Friesian cows is now noticeably less, and prices are ranging mainly from €0.80/kg to €1.10/kg for feeding cows straight from the parlour. Those carrying flesh are selling mainly from €1.30/kg to €1.50/kg. Lesser-quality continental cows have been met with weaker demand and lower prices also, with price of €1.50/kg to €1.70/kg now more common for feeding cows. Where light dairy cross runner calves are coming to the fore they have been met with some price pressure also.

    Steers

    Heavy bullocks over 600kg are a strong trade and are selling from €2.00/kg to €2.20/kg for R grade continentals. Prices have eased slightly in recent weeks, but the main reduction has been for aged bullocks that would not be slaughtered under 30 months. Lighter steers from 500kg to 600kg have seen average prices drop but this is mainly where plainer cattle have been offloaded. Where R grade continentals have been on offer, prices of €2.10/kg to €2.20/kg have been common. U grades are selling mainly from €2.30/kg to €2.40/kg.

    Heifers

    Heifer prices are running about 5c/kg to 10c/kg above the equivalent bullock price as a result of less dairy influence. Again though, like with bullocks, quality is king in terms of prices. Better-quality forward heifers from 500kg to 600kg are selling mainly from €2.10/kg to €2.30/kg, while U grades are making over €2.50/kg. In contrast, where plainer heifers are on offer, prices of €1.80/kg to €2.00/kg are more common. Stores from 400kg to 500kg are selling mainly from €2.10/kg to €2.30/kg for better quality continentals.

    Weanlings

    Where better-quality weanlings have been on offer, prices have been strong. Special sales have seen very strong demand for top quality export type bulls and good quality R+ and U grade bulls suitable for feeding.

    Farmers are active for good quality bulls also, while steady export demand for light bulls is placing a firm floor under prices with the majority of these from 240kg to 280kg selling from €700 to €750. Weanling heifers from 300kg to 400kg are selling mainly from €700 to €800/head.

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