Cattle prices remain static as ‘big kill’ dampens trade

Strong supplies in recent weeks have dampened some of the demand for factory cattle and as a result base prices have remained unchanged for another week.

Procurement managers reported a big kill last week with some suggesting that another 35,000 head weekly kill could be on the cards.

It this holds true, it will bring the total number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants in the last 14 days to over 70,000 head.

Worryingly for farmers, this is 10,000 more than factories generally require in any two week window throughout the year.

And the trend of strong supplies looks set to continue as many procurement managers have plenty of cattle already penciled into their books for slaughter this week.

Beef prices – What’s on offer?

For the most part, factories are continuing to offer farmers 370-375c/kg for steers and 380-385c/kg for heifers.

And although some deals where done at higher prices last week, especially for suitably fleshed continental heifers, cattle buyers seem keen to stick to the base price on offer this week.

Like the prime cattle market, there has also been little movement in cow prices with the majority of buyers maintaining last weeks quotes.

Farmers selling R grade cows can expect to be offer 330-340c/kg, while 310-320c/kg and 300-310 is on offer for O and P grade animals respectively.

34c/kg difference between Irish and UK heifers

The price difference between Irish and UK R3 heifers stood at 34c/kg during the week ending February 19.

Official figures from the European Commission show that Irish farmers were paid 383.95c/kg, while their counterparts in the UK received 418.60c/kg.

On a 280kg heifer carcass, this is a price difference of €97/head.

Meanwhile, figures from the European Commission also show that the Irish R3 heifer price was 1.9c/kg higher than the European average price.

And, the price difference between Irish and Swedish heifers (the highest priced market) stood at nearly €1/kg.

EU R3 heifer price
Source: EU Commission (prices in c/kg)