Beef quotes jump by 5c/kg as cattle numbers continue to tighten

There has been some good news for beef farmers this week, as base quotes for steers and heifers have increased for the first time in almost six months.

Both the steer and heifer base price has increased by 5c/kg to 395c/kg and 405c/kg respectively.

The rise in factory prices follows five consecutive weeks of beef cattle throughput falling, while the beef kill has remained below 30,000 head for the last three weeks.

This indicates that cattle numbers are beginning to tighten on the ground.

A number of procurement managers also said that cattle numbers are likely to remain tight, as farmers are unable to get cattle out to grass.

The poor weather conditions and slow grass growth has seen many farmers struggle to get cattle out to grass. This is likely to delay the cattle kill from grass.

However, despite the price rise for steers and heifers, the cow base price has remained unchanged, with R grade cows making 330-340c/kg, P grades 310-320c/kg and the dairy type P grade cows making 300-310c/kg.

Cattle prices:
  • Steers: 390-395c/kg
  • Heifers: 400-405c/kg
  • R grade cows: 330-340c/kg
  • P grade cows: 310-320c/kg
  • O grade cows: 300-310c/kg

There has also been some movement in the young bull price, with factories willing to pay 390-395c/kg for U grade bulls which meet the desired weight and age specs.

Base quotes for R and O grade young bulls have also jumped by 5c/kg, with processors now offered 380-385c/kg and 370-370c/kg respectively for suitable lots under 16 months of age.

Earlier this year, a number of beef plants introduced price cuts on over weight and over age animals, with animals killing above 400kg and 30 months of age cut by as much as 20c/kg.

Young bull quotes:
  • U grade bulls: 390-395c/kg
  • R grade bulls: 380-385c/kg
  • O grade bulls: 370-375c/kg

Cattle supplies remain tight

Beef cattle supplies have remained tight for the third consecutive week, the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

During the week ending March 28, the weekly beef kill stood at 28,792 head, down 3% on the week previous.

This means that the number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland has remained below 30,000 head of the last three weeks.

Figures from the Department’s beef kill data shows that prime cattle throughput has remained low, with the combined weekly throughput of steers, heifers and young bulls standing at 22,818 head.

Department figures also show that there has been some reduction in the week-on-week cull cow kill, which fell by 6.8% or 373 head last week, compared to the week ending March 21.

But, there was a slight increase in the number of aged bulls slaughtered last week, which increased by 5.7% or 36 head.

Main markets

Britain

The British beef market continues to remain challenging due to strong supplies outweighing demand, according to Bord Bia.

It reports that further weakening in Sterling was seen last week, with €1 now valued at £0.80 Sterling.

Currency markets have a major impact on Ireland’s beef and cattle exports to the UK and so far this year, the number of live cattle exported to the UK has dropped by 10% due to the weaker Sterling.

British cattle prices have also seen a further price fall, R4L grade steers made 330.1p/kg or 408.45c/kg during the week ending April 1.

France

French promotions continue to focus on domestically produced beef and as a result there has been little change in the market, Bord Bia reports.

The R3 young bull price was back 1c making on average €3.71/kg while the O3 cow price increased by 2c and was making €3.11/kg.

Italy

The Italian market continues to remain relatively steady with little change in demand and wholesale prices, but production is expected to see some ease in the come weeks, according to Bord Bia.

However, the Italian live cattle market remains good as male cattle supplies from France remained relatively tight.