Stronger cattle trade sees beef prices rise by 5-10c/kg

A somewhat stronger cattle trade has seen the beef price offered to farmers, for both steers and heifers, rise by 5-10c/kg on last week’s levels.

Most procurement managers are beginning negotiations with farmers at 375c/kg for steers and 385c/kg for heifers – a rise of about 5c/kg on last week.

In addition, some factories are willing to pay an extra 5c/kg on top of the base price to secure numbers, bringing the respective steer and heifer price (excluding Bord Bia QA payments) to 380c/kg and 390c/kg.

There has also been a slight improvement in R grade cow prices with most factories quoting 320-330c/kg for these animals, while the P and O grade price is sitting at 280-290c/kg and 290-300c/kg respectively.

A substantial beef price rise is needed

Beef prices need to kick again this week, Angus Woods said, and feeders need a substantial price rise to left them out of a loss-making situation.

He said deals involving higher prices and payment for transport or flat prices are also more common as feeders are demanding more.

Based on market returns from our largest export market in Britain, factories are in a strong position to increase prices to winter finishers, he said.

2016 cattle supplies up by 80,000 head

An extra 80,465 Irish cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants last year when compared to the year before.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that 1.64m cattle were slaughtered in Ireland in 2016 – up 5.2% on 2015 levels.

Young bulls and cull cows account for the majority of this year-on-year rise, with throughput up by 24.5% and 11.8% respectively.

There was also a slight rise in heifer throughput, which climbed by 11.8% or 37,979 head on year before levels.

However, despite the overall increase, the number of steer and aged bull slaughterings actually declined by 4,978 head and 3,857 head respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +38,550 head or +24.5%
  • Bull: -3,857 head or -11.6%
  • Steer: -4,978 head or -0.8%
  • Cow: +37,979 head or +11.4%
  • Heifer: +13,018 head or +3.1%
  • Total: +80,465 head or +5.2%

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK market remains finely balanced with supplies adequate to meet current demand levels.

Prices from the AHDB show that British R4L grade steers were steady in Sterling terms and averaged the equivalent of 427.66c/kg during the week ending December 31.

Looking at heifers, the R3 grade heifer made the equivalent of 427.5c/kg and 417.7c/kg in Britain and Northern Ireland respectively, it says.

Meanwhile, the French R3 young bull price made 373c/kg while O3 cow price was at 299c/kg, it says, and the Italian R3 young bull price stood at 407c/kg.