Factory agents are trying to buy young bulls this week at €3.55/kg, meaning quotes are back almost €0.50/kg when compared to the same period last year. This equates to almost €200/head on a 400kg carcase.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that a number of factories have contacted large producers saying that bull beef is becoming increasingly hard to sell and that UK supermarkets are currently offering a discounted rate on young bull beef.

Because of this, they have given no guarantees that they will be in the market for bull beef in the coming months.

Beef kill up

Up until 25 June 2019, almost 16,000 extra young bulls were killed when compared to last year.

Prices have been dropping in recent weeks, with young bulls in particular being targeted by factories.

It was thought that the flush of spring 2018 bulls had been processed through the system, but numbers have held steady. Some 4,302 bulls were killed the week before last, up 500 on the corresponding week last year.

There are growing concerns among young bull producers about the future of the system as factories pull back on their buying of young bulls.

Weanling producers

Weanling producers will also feel this drop, as many specialist bull finishers are very active around mart rings in autumn and can afford to go that extra bit on good-quality weanlings because of the efficiency gains associated with bull beef systems. Some farmers who have autumn-born bulls are now asking whether they should castrate or leave entire given the current bull quotes.

It is another kick in the teeth from factories for suckler farmers, who seem to be always hit hardest when it comes to price cuts by Irish slaughter plants.

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