Strong competition among buyers for all types of cattle in marts has filtered through to the prices on offer for finished cattle, with the live trade offering a very competitive alternative for farmers.
Slaughter-fit cattle and animals suited to a short finishing period are typically making 240p/kg to 250p/kg for good-quality U-grading animals.
Exceptional lots are making upwards of 260p/kg.
At a kill-out of 57%, this converts to a beef price in the region of 421p/kg to 438p/kg for the main run of animals, significantly higher than the 408p/kg to 412p/kg being paid for U grade cattle at local factories.
According to mart managers, there is a noticeable trend of finishers with smaller numbers offloading cattle through the live ring to avail of higher prices.
However, the price differential narrows moving down the grades. R grade types are generally selling upwards from 230p/kg, which converts to a finished price of around 404p/kg.
The mart trade for cull cows is also strong, with animals in slaughter-fit condition making 180p/kg to 210p/kg, with feeding cows typically selling from 140p/kg to 160p/kg.
Meanwhile, analysis by the Irish Farmers Journal highlights that beef farmers will need a significant lift in prices over the coming months to cover the hike in fertiliser costs.
On a typical 40ha (100 acre) holding, carrying 50 spring calving cows, and selling 40 weanlings in the autumn, along with eight cull cows and two prime heifers, we estimate 23t of fertiliser will be required to maintain the stocking rate.
Comparing CAN at £230/t in 2021 and £600/t in 2022, total costs increase by £8,510 from £5,290 to £13,800.
Across the 50 cattle sold annually, each animal needs to generate an additional £170/head just to cover the higher fertiliser costs. On a 380kg weanling, this equates to an additional 45p/kg in sale price.