Beef price remains unchanged but cattle numbers are starting to creep up

There has been little movement in the beef factory price this week, as cattle numbers are starting to creep up in beef plants across the country.

The majority of procurement managers have held both the heifer and steer base price at last week’s level.

Farmers selling heifers are currently being offered a base price of 400c/kg, but some select lots are getting 405c/kg. This excludes the 12c/kg quality assurance payment.

The steer base price has also remained unchanged, with procurement managers offering 390-395c/kg for these lots.

However, factory price cuts on over-age and over-weight carcasses are still in play on the market, and some farmers may face price cuts of up to 20c/kg on carcasses over 420kg and over 30 months.

Like the prime cattle trade, there has also been no change in the cow price this week.

R grade cows are currently making 330-340c/kg, O grades are selling from 310-320c/kg, while the plainer dairy P types are being quoted at 300-310c/kg.

Cattle prices:
  • Steers: 390-395c/kg
  • Heifers: 400-405/kg
  • R Grade Cows: 330-340c/kg
  • O Grade Cows: 310-320c/kg
  • P grade Cows: 300-310c/kg 

Cattle supplies

A number of procurement managers told Agriland that cattle supplies have bounced back following three weeks of a below 30,000 head kill. This has also been confirmed by Department of Agriculture data.

The beef kill increased slightly last week, ending the five-week consecutive decline in throughput, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

Over the past five weeks, the beef kill has declined steadily and this week’s beef kill increase means that the kill has passed 30,000 head for the first time in four weeks.

During the week ending April 10, the number of cattle killed at Department approved beef export plants stood at 30,602 head, up 1,810 head on the week previous.

The majority of the change occurred due to a rise in cow throughput, which jumped almost 24% last week.

Steer and heifer throughput also increased by 273 head and 544 head respectively, figures from the Department show.

However, young bull throughput dropped by 111 head or 3%, while there was no change in the aged bull kill compared to the week earlier.

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British R4L steer price declined last week by 2.6p/kg to 327.5p/kg, while similar type heifer prices dropped by 2p/kg to 327.5p/kg. British steers are now worth 412c/kg in euro terms.

It shows that British beef prices are now at their lowest level in the past five years, as market demand remains sluggish, with a seasonal slowdown in round cuts and topsides.

Bord Bia also reports that the French beef trade remained difficult last week, as prices came under increased pressure, as retail promotions are focused on pork products.

The Italian beef trade remains largely unchanged, but Bord Bia reports that there has been some tightening in Italian domestic cattle supplies over the past week.

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