Beef trade: No let up in downward price pressure

This week, beef factory agents are still offering 375c/kg for factory-fit bullocks, while base quotes of 385c/kg are on the table for heifers.

Again, there are reports of some farmers receiving 5c/kg more for in-spec cattle, but these are few and far between.

Similar to the prime kill, cows remain somewhat difficult. As it stands, processors are offering 260-280c/kg for P-grade cows, while lesser-quality cows are further back.

Quotes are starting at 285c/kg for O-grade cows; R-grade cows are at 300c/kg, while finishers supplying better-quality, R-grade cows are being offered 10c/kg more.

Cattle throughput

Official figures show that some 39,955 cattle were processed in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending December 2.

The addition of last week’s throughput brings the cumulative kill for the year – up to and including the week ending December 2 – to over 1.67 million head.

Looking at the figures in more detail, last week’s steer and heifer kill stood at 14,571 head and 11,292 head respectively.

Cow slaughterings accounted for the third largest segment of the kill at 8,714 head, while young bull and aged bull throughput stood at 4,828 head and 483 head respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending December 2):
  • Young bulls: 4,828 head (+108 head or +2.2%);
  • Bulls: 483 head (+1 head or +0.2%);
  • Steers: 14,571 head (-314 head or -2.1%);
  • Cows: 8,714 head (-244 head or -2.7%);
  • Heifers: 11,292 head (+52 head or +0.5%);
  • Total: 39,955 head (-389 head or -0.9%).

Year-on-year supplies

As mentioned above, over 1.67 million cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland this year – a climb of 55,525 head or 3.4% when compared to the corresponding period in 2017.

Throughput increases have been witnessed in the young bull, aged bull, cow and heifer categories. However, steer throughput has declined by 10,186 head or 1.6%.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: 186,224 head (+12,331 head or +7.0%);
  • Bulls: 29,119 head (+2,471 head or +9.2%);
  • Steers: 629,606 head (-10,186 head or -1.6%);
  • Cows: 370,781 head (+22,134 head or +6.3%);
  • Heifers: 449,421 head (+26,297 head or +6.2%);
  • Total: 1,674,955 head (+55,525 head or +3.4%).