Supplies increase but beef prices hold steady

Cattle numbers are growing week-on-week and some 34,214 head of cattle were slaughtered in Department approved beef export plants during the week ending February 5.

This is the first time this year that the weekly cattle kill has broken the 34,000 head mark, but it is unlikely to be the last as an additional 100,000 cattle are expected to come on stream this year.

But, despite the strong supplies, the majority of factories have opted to maintain prices at last week’s levels.

Many factories are offering farmers 370-375c/kg for steers and 380-385c/kg for heifers, but some buyers are willing to give an extra 5c/kg to secure the right animals.

The young bull market remain relatively unchanged from previous weeks, with offers starting for R and U grade animals at 375c/kg and 380c/kg respectively.

Meanwhile, 340c/kg is readily available for R grade cows, while the lower grade P and O grade animals are sitting at 300-310c/kg and 310-320c/kg respectively.

Steers and heifers dominate the weekly kill

During the week ending February 5, some 34,214 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants – an increase of 1,056 head or 3.2% on the week before.

Steer and heifer throughput dominated the total weekly kill and supplies of these animals reached a combined total of 20,601 head – a 87 head increase on the week before.

Moving to bulls, some 5,515 head of young bulls were slaughtered during the first week of February, while aged bull throughput stood at 408 head.

Cow throughput also posted an increase with an additional 696 head slaughtered during the week ending February 5 compared to the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +215 head (+4%)
  • Bulls: +55 head (+15.6%)
  • Steers: +84 head (+0.8%)
  • Cows: +696 head (+10%)
  • Heifers: +3 head (0%)
  • Total: +1,056 head (+3.2%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK trade remains steady will supply and demand relatively balanced.

Cattle prices from the AHDB show that GB R4L steers increased slightly in Sterling terms and made the equivalent of 428.17c/kg during the week ending February 4.

The French market continues to be dominated by domestically produced beef, Bord Bia reports, while the demand for cuts such as entrecotes and steaks remains poor.

However, the trade was best for most offal cuts while limited promotions focused on domestically produced ribs.