There is more life in the beef trade this week with reports of 2p to 4p/kg more on offer for in-spec steers and heifers.

Factory agents indicate there are plenty of cattle coming to the market, but a high percentage of these animals originate from the dairy herd and are destined for manufacturing beef.

In contrast, supplies of U and R grading steers and heifers are much more limited, pushing agents to offer improved prices to secure adequate numbers.

Base quotes have increased by 2p/kg to 448p/kg for U3 animals with most deals on 466p/kg to 472p/kg for regular finishers. Cows remain under pressure with R grading animals in the mid-330p/kg price range.

Strike concerns

Sources indicate the improved demand is partly in response to concerns that DAERA vets and meat inspectors could undertake further strike action before the end of the year.

It is understood members of the public service union, NIPSA, are due to meet before the end of this week to gauge the support among members for another round of industrial action. NIPSA is required to give one week’s notice to the employer (DAERA) ahead of a strike.

Farmers who have contacted the Irish Farmers Journal have expressed alarm at the prospect of further disruption to the beef and lamb kill after the week-long action in early November.

“It is vital DAERA and meat plants have contingency plans in place to ensure factories remain operational. We are self-employed people. We don’t get holiday or sick pay. We can’t afford this,” commented a Co Down farmer.

Lamb trade

Meanwhile, in the lamb trade, quotes continue to run at between 540p and 545p/kg with deals being made at 550p/kg.

With local supplies continuing to fall short of processing demand, there are isolated reports of lambs being paid to a 22.5kg weight limit to ward off competition from factories in the Republic of Ireland.

Irish plants reduced prices by 10c/kg earlier this week as processors attempted to flush lambs on to the market.

However, the move has had mixed success as €6.70/kg is still available midweek, which equates to a sterling price in the region of 560p/kg.

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