Factory quotes for finished cattle are still rising, with some factories particularly short of supplies this week and having to increase quotes.

Some are managing to hold on to quotes of €4.10/kg for heifers, with more having to move to €4.15/kg to lure some of the bigger, regular suppliers.

Bullocks are working off €4.05/kg, with €4.10/kg being paid, especially where there are also heifers involved.

Cows are also still a good trade, with O grading cows being quoted at €3.30/kg to €3.35/kg.

P+3+ cows are coming in at €3.20/kg to €3.25/kg. Good R grade cows are still in demand, with as high as €3.75/kg being paid for good fleshed suckler-type cows.

On the hunt

Factory agents all across the country are on the road again on the hunt for cattle.

There appears to be particular pressure on getting supplies towards the northern half of the country.

Northern Ireland-based processors have been moving across the border in the last few weeks looking for cattle and this has upped the game of a few southern-based processors.

One northern processor has €4.20/kg on the table for continental heifers this week.

This quote is plus 20c/kg for an in-spec bonus and quality assurance, in addition to any grid bonuses. This would leave a U=3+ heifer coming into €4.58/kg.

Bulls back in vogue

Bulls are also back in vogue it seems, for at least as long as demand for beef is ahead of supply.

Under-16-month bulls are working off €4.10/kg base price, with talk of €4.15/kg being available by the end of the week.

This is before the 12c/kg in-spec bonus and grid bonuses are added in.

All sorts of deals are also being brokered on weights with no penalties for overweight carcasses.

Supply projection

The updated cattle supply projection provided by Bord Bia points to tighter supplies of finished cattle for the year.

The revised figures predict cattle numbers will be some 120,000 fewer this year compared with 2020.

The projection is based on a number of factors, including the very strong export performance of forward store and finished cattle to NI so far this year.

This trend is expected to continue, where exports to date are up 117% on last year to 24,513.

Bord Bia figures show that 1,213 finished cattle over 21 months were exported to Northern Ireland in the week ending 18 April 2021.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Coupled with the estimated 5% reduction in the UK kill for the year, this points to strong and favourable market conditions for Irish beef, which must be maximised by factories here and returned in beef prices to farmers."