Beef trade: Cow prices hit; weekly kill creeps past 31,000 head

As has been the case over the past number of weeks, beef factories are quick to quote prices of 360c/kg for steers and 365c/kg for factory-ready heifers.

Deals at 5c/kg higher are few and far between and prime cattle are being purchased at the above quotes.

On the other hand, some factories have kept the downward pressure on cow prices, mainly due to the availability of these animals for slaughter.

The cow kill stood at 8,202 head last week, with a seasonal increase evident. The poor growth rate may also have contributed to more cows available fit for slaughter.

Beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for cows at 280c/kg for P-grade cows; poorer-quality cows are achieving lower prices.

In addition, 285-290c/kg is on the table for O-grade animals and 305-310c/kg is being quoted for R-grade cows.

Under-24 month bulls are making 350c/kg for R-grades and 360c/kg for U-grading types; O-grade bulls are hovering around the 340c/kg mark and slightly higher in some beef processing plants – depending on quality.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that some 31,049 cattle were slaughtered last week, with cows witnessing a large jump in numbers.

Last week, steer and heifer slaughterings stood at 10,349 and 9,162 head respectively. Cow slaughterings accounted for 8,202 head, while young bull and aged bull throughput stood at 2,779 head and 557 head respectively.

Yearly supplies are sitting at 699,665 head – a decrease from the 755,145 head that were slaughtered by this time in 2019.

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