Little change on the beef price front

There has been little change on the beef price front, with most processors opting to maintain quotes at similar levels to last week.

Despite an increase in cattle supplies and a considerable weakening of Sterling, cattle buyers are still working off last week’s quotes.

Procurement managers are continuing to offer 370c/kg for steers and 380c/kg for heifers, while there has also been no movement in cow prices.

Presently, cattle buyers are offering 310c/kg for R grade cows, 290c/kg for O grades and 270-280c/kg for the plainer P grade lots.

Young bull prices have also remained stable, with most plants now working off a base price of 380c/kg for U grade animals, 370c/kg for R grades and 360c/kg for O grade animals.

But, finishers choosing to operate this system must be aware that a number of processors are still imposing weight limits of 420kg on these animals.

Cattle numbers continue to climb

The number of beef cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants continues to climb on a week-to-week basis.

During the week ending October 1, a total of 35,411 cattle were slaughtered in Ireland, figures from the Department show, an increase of 305 head or 1% compared to the week before.

Young bulls and steers made up the majority of this increase, with both rising by 101 head (+4.9%) and 633 head (+3.9%) respectively.

There was also a slight increase in aged bull throughput (+1%), while the weekly heifer kill also increased marginally, with an extra 90 heifers slaughtered in Department approved plants.

However, despite the overall weekly increase, the number of cows slaughtered actually dropped, with 501 head fewer slaughterings during the week ending October 1.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +101 head or +4.9%
  • Bull: +5 head or +1%
  • Steer: +633 head or 3.9%
  • Cow: -501 head or -6.1%
  • Heifer: +90 head or +1.1%
  • Total: +305 head or 1%

Cumulative beef kill

Figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that an additional 46,444 cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland this year compared to the same time in 2015.

Young bulls account for the majority of this increase, with year-on-year throughput up 28.5% or 33,224 head on 2015.

Cow and heifer slaughterings have also increased, it shows, with an additional 17,529 cows culled this year, while heifer throughput has increased slightly by 0.7% or 2,148 head.

However, official figures also show that there have been declines in the cumulative aged bull and steer kill.

Aged bull throughput has declined by 14%, it shows, while steer slaughterings have dropped by 2,602 head or 0.6%.

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK cattle trade continued to remain firm last week, with no major price increases of note reported.

Demand for most cuts remain steady, it says, with steaks in particular performing well.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB (the British body for beef and lamb) show that British R4L steers made the equivalent of 421c/kg for the week ending October 1.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland the average R3 steer price made the equivalent of around 393c/kg, while heifers made the equivalent of 394c/kg, Bord Bia reports.

Like previous weeks, the French market continues to reflect the trends evident over recent weeks with ongoing difficulties getting imported onto retail shelves.

Retail promotions were more evident, Bord Bia reports, with these promotions focusing on domestically produced mince, burgers, fillets, chuck and ribs.

The French R3 young bull price was up 2c on average making €3.54/kg while the O3 cow price was down 5c making around €2.92/kg.