Beef trade: Regular sellers and numbers determine beef price

The latest kill figures from the department of agriculture’s beef kill database indicate that just over 32,850 cattle were slaughtered during the week ending May 19.

While this is an increase on the previous week’s kill, agents are actively sourcing stock with deals being done at higher prices. Farmers with the ‘right’ cattle or who have numbers on their side are in the best position to achieve these higher prices.

At the moment, general quotes hover around the 390c/kg mark for steers and 400c/kg for heifers, but 395-400c/kg (bullocks) and 405-410c/kg (heifers) has been achieved by some farmers.

Moving to the cow trade, the demand for these animals is good. As we move through the summer period, the demand for manufacturing beef should be steady.

P-grading cows are making 300c/kg, with O-grades hovering around the 310-320c/kg mark; however, better-quality O-grades are making 5c/kg more. In addition, R-grades are achieving 330c/kg in the beef factories, with U-grades making up to 350c/kg.


However, while the prime and cow trade are relatively steady, the bull trade has come under pressure. The chairperson of the beef committee of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Edmund Graham, outlined that there are reports of a 5c/kg cut in some plants.

Factory agents are quoting in the region of 370-380c/kg for R-grades and procurement managers are quoting upwards of 380-390c/kg for U-grades. O-grade bulls are hovering around the 350c/kg and slightly higher in some beef processing plants.

Cattle throughput

As mentioned above, figures from the department of agriculture’s beef kill database show that some 32,853 cattle have been slaughtered during the week ending May 19 – an increase of 3,156 head on the week before.

Yearly supplies are sitting at 698,425 head – an increase of 37,818 head up to and including the week ending May 19.

Increases were witnessed in all categories. The number of young bulls slaughtered jumped by 610 head, while aged bulls increased by 271 head.

In addition, steers increased by 1,332 head and cows increased by 614 head. Moving to cows, the number of these animals presented for slaughter jumped by 614 head, while heifers increased by 453 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending May 19):
  • Young bulls: 3,997 head (+610 head or +18%);
  • Bulls: 1,231 head (+271 head or +28%);
  • Steers: 10,895 head (+1,332 head or +14%);
  • Cows: 6,694 head (+614 head or +10%);
  • Heifers: 9,698 head (+453 head or +5%);
  • Total: 32,853 head (+3,156 head or +11%).