Foyle Meats in Donegal is top of the factory league this week, with its quote of €3.80/kg base price for heifers.

It is also offering a bonus of 10c/kg on carcases killing out between 300kg and 380kg.

That means at a base price of €3.80/kg, a 310kg in-spec quality assured (QA) heifer is hitting €4.10/kg.

Donegal is also quoting very strong for cows at €3.55/kg for QA R grading cows.

The 10c/kg bonus is also available on cows if they kill out between 300kg and 380kg.

Remarkably, some factories are still able to buy cattle, particularly bullocks, at €3.75/kg, but hard sellers are getting paid €3.80/kg. Full loads

Heifers are generally moving at €3.80/kg to €3.85/kg, again with hard sellers and those with numbers at the higher end of the prices. Where full loads of heifers and bullocks are being sold, it's taking €3.80/kg to €3.85/kg to buy them in many cases.

Bulls are moving at €3.80/kg to €3.85/kg for R grading bulls, with €3.85/kg to €3.90/kg being paid for U grading bulls.

Under-16-month bulls are being quoted between €3.75/kg and €3.80/kg base price before bonuses and grading is paid.

Cow prices

Cows continue to remain in good demand. P+3+ cows are now trading at €3.00/kg to €3.05/kg, with O grading cows moving to €3.10/kg to €3.15/kg.

Good-quality R grading cows are working off €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg, with €3.50/kg being paid for good numbers of well-finished suckler-bred stock.

British prices

Prices across the water in Britain continue to improve in the last two weeks.

The AHDB reported prices for the week ending 27 February showing R4L steers at £3.85/kg (€4.78/kg incl VAT).

Cows have also improved by 5p to 10p/kg in the last 10 days in Britain.

Sterling continues to strengthen and has gone to 85p:€1 on a couple of occasions in the last seven days. It is currently sitting at 85p:€1.

This is more good news for Irish exporters, but some farmers are starting to ask questions about how much of this improvement is being passed back to farmers by factories.

The kill stabilised at 30,365 head when veal slaughtering of 3,301 head is taken out for the week ending Friday 5 March.

This was a slight decrease on the previous week’s kill of 30,430 head and with finished cattle in tight supply, a further drop is expected for last week.

The young bull kill saw a significant drop last week, with 755 fewer young bulls slaughtered. Cows on the other hand saw an increase of 367 head on the previous week.

Bord Bia confidence

Bord Bia is also showing some confidence about the next few months in the beef market.

It says that against a background of a projected 1.8% drop in European beef production in 2021 combined with the prospect that there will a gradual reopening of the food service and tourism sectors over the coming months, there is a basis for some recovery in the overall beef market situation as we move through spring and early summer.