Beef trade: More factory appetite begins to appear

A total number of 35,245 beef cattle were processed during the week ending April 14 – a 157 head decrease on the week before.

Again, this week, there seems to be more of an appetite for factory-ready cattle. Beef factories are quick to quote prices of 375c/kg for steers and 385c/kg for heifers.

From speaking with beef finishers throughout the country, where large numbers of ‘in-spec’ cattle are available, there is an additional 5c/kg on the table.

At the upper end of the market, this brings heifers to 390c/kg and bullocks to 380c/kg, while some factories are working off 370c/kg (steers) and 380c/kg (heifers).

Moving to bulls this week, factory agents are quoting 330c/kg for O-grade bulls, while R-grades are moving for 350c/kg; procurement managers are quoting up to 370c/kg for U-grades; P grades start at 320c/kg.

Again, weight restrictions are causing some farmers problems when it comes to marketing their bulls. Beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers at 260c/kg for P-grade cows; poorer-quality cows are achieving lower prices.

In addition, the cow trade has also witnessed some upward movement. 280c/kg is on the table for P-grade animals and 285-290c/kg is being quoted for O-grade cows; R-grading cows are making upwards of 300c/kg.

However, the location and demand of individual processing plants plays a role in the price being quoted to farmers for cows.

Weekly kill

Turning to the weekly kill, as mentioned above, the total number of 35,245 cattle – excluding calves – were processed during the week ending April 14.

The number of young bulls processed amounted to 4,585 head – a fall of 238 head and the number of cows processed by Irish beef plants stood at 6,239 – a fall of 419 head.

Some 12,419 factory-fit bullocks were slaughtered – a rise of 539 head. Moving to heifers, 10,723 of these animals were processed during the week ending April 14 – down from 10,981 head during the week before. Furthermore, some 187 more aged bulls were slaughtered.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending April 14):
  • Young bulls: 4,585 head (-238 head or -5%);
  • Bulls: 1,279 head (+127 head or +11%);
  • Steers: 12,419 head (+539 head or +4.5%);
  • Cows: 6,239 head (-419 head or -6.2%);
  • Heifers: 10,723 head (-258 head or -2.3%);
  • Total: 35,245 head (-157 head or -0.7%).

The total number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef exporting plants has surpassed 541,000 up to the week ending April 14.

All categories have witnessed an increase when compared to the same period in 2018.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending April 14):
  • Young bulls: 82,562 head (+13,307 head or +19.2%);
  • Bulls: 9,435 head (+1,083 head or +13%);
  • Steers: 170,876 head (+2,030 head or +1.2%);
  • Cows: 104,390 head (+955 head or +0.9%);
  • Heifers: 162,796 head (+17,569 head or +12%);
  • Total: 541,913 head (+39,248 head or +7.8%).