Beef trade: Factories manage to keep a cap on base quotes

This week, beef processing plants are starting negotiations at 400-405c/kg for steers and 410-415c/kg for heifers.

Farmers, especially those with large numbers of in-spec stock to market, have been receiving prices of 5c/kg above base quotes. Some procurement managers have noted that finishers have offloaded cattle in order to stretch fodder supplies.

In addition, deals are also being done on transport to encourage farmers to market supplies.

During the week ending April 15, in-spec, R+3= steers made a top price of 428.03c/kg, while the average price paid stood at 418.33c/kg.

Furthermore, a top price of 439.94c/kg was achieved for R+3= heifers; the average price paid for these animals stood at 432.88c/kg.

Cow prices

There is quite a variation in the prices being quoted to farmers for cows and this depends on the quality and grades being presented. The location and demand of individual processing plants also has to be factored into the equation.

Buyers are offering 330-340c/kg to purchase P-grade animals. In addition, procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers for O-grade and R-grade cows at 350c/kg and 360c/kg respectively.

During the week ending April 15, O=3= cows made a top price of 360.05c/kg, while the average price paid stood at 352.14c/kg.

Weekly Kill

Moving to the weekly kill, the latest data from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that some 12,542 steers were slaughtered in approved export plants during the week ending April 15 – an increase of 850 head.

Heifer supplies also increased during the second week of April. Official figures show that 9,830 heifers were bought by beef factories – an increase of 1,195 head or 13.8% on the week before.

An increase was also witnessed in both the young bull and aged bull categories – up 82 head and 89 head respectively.

In total, some 34,696 head of cattle were sent for slaughter – an increase of 4,875 head or 15%. Much of this increase can be attributed to cow throughput. Week-on-week supplies of these animals grew by 2,412 head or 40% during the week ending April 15.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending April 15):
  • Young bulls: 3,275 head (+82 head or +2.5%);
  • Bulls: 705 head (+89 head or +14%);
  • Steers: 12,542 head (+850 head or +7.2%);
  • Cows: 8,344 head (+2,412 head or +40%);
  • Heifers: 9,830 head (+1,195 head or +13%);
  • Total: 34,696 head (+4,875 head or +15%).


In Britain, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reported that – during the week ending April 15 – overall steers prices increased to 362.1p/kg (413.7c/kg). R4 heifers made the equivalent of 427.5c/kg.

Looking at young bull returns, it was reported that overall prices increased by 3p/kg (3.42c/kg). However, R4 young bull prices decreased by 10p/kg (11c/kg) to the equivalent of 401.6c/kg on the previous week.

Overall cow prices were reported to have increased during the week ending April 15; prices for cows falling into the O-grade category also increased. These animals made the equivalent of 321.3c/kg.

According to the AHDB, some 33,400 head of cattle were slaughtered during the week ending April 15. This was a 3% increase on the number processed during the corresponding period in 2017.