Some suckler farms in the northwest have cows housed since last September. That’s an eight month winter.

Feed costs have skyrocketed. The news this week that factories are applying pressure to the beef trade is a real blow.

Budgets completed last October showed a beef price north of €6/kg was required for winter finishers to break even.


This week a quality assured R+ bullock will come into €5.36/kg, a long way off €6/kg.

These farmers filled their sheds, silage pits and meal bins and rolled the dice on winter finishing.

The factories seem to think it’s not necessary to have a contract with farmers. Instead they deal with larger operators and their own feedlots.


All the signals point towards summer grass-based finishing with winter finishing a loss-making exercise.

Is this the right road for an industry that needs all year-round beef?

Peaks and troughs aren’t good for anybody, but the reality is that the factories are taking control of this themselves and smoothing the highs and lows with their own stock.