Beef trade: Agents actively sourcing cattle with deals being done at higher prices

With the May bank holiday behind us, beef processors are actively sourcing cattle in an effort to increase throughput.

This is welcome news for beef finishers and producers are urged to bargain hard when it comes to marketing their animals as prices – above base quotes – have been achieved by some farmers.

Like last week, quotes have edged upwards and most plants are now on a base price of 380-385c/kg for steers; some steer deals are being struck at 5c/kg more (excluding Quality Assurance Scheme bonuses).

Going off the higher price of 385c/kg, a 350kg steer carcass is now worth €1,348 excluding QA.

Like the steer trade, farmers have achieved prices above base quotes for heifers, with some deals being done at 400c/kg for ‘in-spec’ and larger numbers; but, farmers are generally receiving 390-395c/kg.

Location depending, P-grading cows are making 290c/kg, with O-grades hovering around the 300c/kg mark; however, better-quality O-grades are making 10-20c/kg more. In addition, R-grades are achieving 320-340c/kg in the beef factories.

Producers with bulls are also in a better position. Factory agents are quoting in the region of 360-370c/kg for R-grades and procurement managers are quoting upwards of 370-380c/kg for U-grades. O-grade bulls are making 340-355c/kg.

Supplies

The number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants amounted to 31,503 head, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

Looking at the beef kill in more detail, some 3,870 young bulls were slaughtered during the week ending May 5 – a decrease of 10 head on the week before.

Heifer and cow throughput increased, with supplies up by 311 head and 653 head respectively. In addition, the number of steers processed fell by just 13 head on the previous week’s kill.

Aged bull supplies increased during the week ending May 5 by 18 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending May 5):
  • Young bulls: 3,870 head (-10 head or -0.2%);
  • Bulls: 1,119 head (+18 head or +1.6%);
  • Steers: 10,527 head (-13 head or -0.1%);
  • Cows: 6,369 head (+653 head or +11.4%);
  • Heifers: 9,618 head (+311 head or +3.3%);
  • Total: 31,503 head (+959 head or +3.1%).