Beef price improves as cattle numbers tighten

There has been some improvement in the beef trade with prices for both heifers and steers up by between 5-10c/kg this week.

Cattle numbers have tightened considerably over the past month and as a result procurement managers have upped their quotes in order to secure stock.

A number of procurement managers, especially those located further north told Agriland that cattle numbers have really tightened, leading to some having to increase base quotes by up to 10c/kg.

However, procurement managers further south in Leinster and Munster have reported a much lesser deficit of cattle, but they are expecting numbers to tighten over the next week or two.

Beef cattle prices

The improvement in cattle prices now means that farmers selling steers this week can expect to be offered 400-405c/kg, up between 5-10c/kg on last week’s 395c/kg.

A 300kg steer carcass now has a base value of between €1,200 and €1,215.

Heifers finishers can also expect higher prices, with the quoted price for these lots now sitting at 405-410c/kg.

But, like last week, the cull cow trade has remains unchanged

Finishers selling R grade cows can expect a base price of 340-350c/kg, O grade cows are trading from 320c/kg and the dairy P grades are making 310-315/kg.

Cattle supplies

The Irish beef kill has remained below 30,000 head for the last four weeks, indicating that cattle supplies are beginning to tighten on the ground.

During the week ending May 15, there were just over 28,000 cattle slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved beef plants.

However, despite the relatively tight cattle numbers, there was a small increase in the number of cattle slaughtered during the week ending May 15, with throughput up 649 head on the week previous, figures from the Department show.

The majority of this increase is due to a rise in the young bull kill, which was up 22% or 708 head on the week ending May 8.

But, there has been very little change in the weekly throughput of steers and heifers. Steer throughput fell by 1.8%, while the heifer kill has increased by only 40 head.

Looking at the cull throughput, aged bull slaughterings have increased by 3%, while official figures show a 0.2% fall in cow slaughterings

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef trade edged upwards last week on the back of increased demand.

During the week ending May 14,  R4L grade steers made around 325.9p/kg. In euro terms British steers made the equivalent of 417c/kg, while heifers traded from 415c/kg.

The French trade continues to remain slow, Bord Bia reports, due to recent difficulties in retail demand for imported beef.

Retail promotions have focused on domestically produced chuck steaks and ribs, while demand remained best for steak cuts.

There was been little change in the Italian market last week, but the R3 young bull price was back by 7c/kg averaging around 385c/kg, figures from Bord Bia show.