Beef prices harden slightly but weekly kill strikes 34,900 head

There has been a slight improvement in factory beef prices, as procurement managers seem keen to secure cattle for the Christmas market.

Both steer and heifer prices have hardened slightly this week, but most buyers are keen to maintain the status quo when it comes to base price of 365c/kg and 375c/kg respectively.

Although, one factory in the southern half of the country has began negotiations with farmers at a base price of 370c/kg for steers and 380c/kg for heifers.

As has been the norm in recent weeks, in-spec cattle are in demand, with many procurement managers willing to pay an extra 5c/kg on top of the base price to secure supplies.

But procurement managers are keen to stress that strong supplies remain a worry, particularly as we edge closer to 2017.

Looking at cows, most plants have maintained prices at last week’s levels, with 300-310c/kg becoming the norm for R grade cows, while farmers can expect to be offered 280-290c/kg for the plainer P and O grade animals.

There has also been little or no movement in young bulls prices, which are currently sitting at 370c/kg, 380c/kg and 390c/kg for O, R and U grade bulls respectively.

Beef prices:
  • Steers: 365-370c/kg
  • Heifers: 375-380c/kg
  • R grade cows: 300-310c/kg
  • O grade cows: 290c/kg
  • P grade cows: 280c/kg

Weekly kill hits 34,944 head

The number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved export plants hit the 34,944 head mark during the week ending November 27.

This is an increase of 262 head or 0.8% on the week before.

The majority of the increase in supplies can be attributed to heifer throughput, which increased by 344 head or 3.6% on the week before.

Young bull and steer throughput also increased, with supplies up by 1.2% (+40 head) and 1.8% (+237 head) on the week before.

Meanwhile, figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that aged bull and cow slaughterings fell compared to the week ending November 20, with supplies down by 4.8% (-25 head) and 4.1% (-335 head).

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +40 head (+1.2%)
  • Aged bulls: -25 head (-4.8%)
  • Steers: +237 head (+1.8%)
  • Cows: -335 head (-4.1%)
  • Heifers: +344 head (+3.6%)
  • Total: +262 head (+0.8%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef market remains steady with little change reported in either supply or demand.

Prices from the AHDB show that British R4L steers averaged 366.8p/kg (430.65c/kg) during the week ending November 25, while R3 heifers made the equivalent of 422c/kg in Britain and 409c/kg in Northern Ireland.

Bord Bia also reports that the French beef trade has shown little change, with lower market demand for steak cuts, while offal has performed best.

Retail promotions were centered mainly on domestically produced product such as ribs and steaks.

The R3 young bull price was unchanged making on average 362c/kg while the O3 cow price was down 1c making 296c/kg on average, it says.