Tightening beef cattle supplies, this week, have added a bit more bite to the beef trade with most processors opting to increase steer and heifer prices by 5c/kg.

Procurement managers say supplies have tightened a little following the big weekly kills seen in late February and early March.

During this period weekly beef supplies passed the 35,000 head mark on a number of occasions.

Factories, particularly those edging towards the west, have upped the price in order to secure supplies this week.

Many are now offering 380-385c/kg for steers and 390-395c/kg for heifers.

But, despite the slight rise in prices, the majority of continental steers brought to slaughter under a store-to-beef system will struggle to cover their costs this year.

Teagasc figures show that winter finishers of these animals will need to receive a price of between 410-438c/kg to cover costs this spring.

IFA National Livestock Chairman, Angus Woods, said agents are reporting that it’s harder to get stock this week as farmers are extremely busy due to a change in the weather, lambing and calving.

No change in the cow market

Meanwhile, looking at cow prices, there has been no chance in the market with the majority of processors continuing to work off last week’s prices.

Buyers are beginning negotiations with farmers for suitably fleshed R grade cows at 330-340c/kg, while P and O grade cows are being quoted at 305-310c/kg and 310-315c/kg respectively.

National average prices

Looking at the national average steer price for the week ending March 5, factories paid an average price of 403c/kg for base heifers – a decrease of 0.22c/kg on the previous week.

heifer prices Mar13

The national base steer price for the week ending March 5 stood at 392c/kg, which is up 0.55c/kg on the week before.

These prices include breed-specific and producer group bonuses where applicable.

national average steer price mar13

For a detailed breakdown of all factory prices, check out Agriland’s factory price tool Here

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK beef trade has steadied on the back of strong retail demand with supplies remaining relatively strong.

Cattle prices from the AHDB recovered slightly in Sterling terms and British R4L grade steers averaged 360.7p/kg or 414.66c/kg during the week ending March 4.

British R3 heifer prices made the equivalent of 416c/kg, while the same animals in Northern Ireland made 408c/kg.

Bord Bia also said that the French market has shown little change, with low demand reported for offal type products and traditional cuts such as entrecotes and steaks.

Domestically-produced beef, it says, is performing best while promotions are limited at retail level to domestically-produced ribs.