Beef trade: Plenty of factory-fit bulls still available

This week, the steer and heifer trade has remained unchanged. However, procurement managers have noted that there is still plenty of factory-fit bulls available for slaughter.

This has followed on from the Christmas period when bulls prices came under pressure. For the most part, O-grades are trading for 350-360c/kg, while R-grades are moving for 370c/kg; procurement managers are quoting 380c/kg for U-grading bulls.

With the high numbers of bulls available for slaughter, farmers are advised to speak with their factories when it comes to marketing these animals, as Friesian bulls are under increased pressure.

However, some factories are implementing price cuts on ‘overweight’ bulls. Again, farmers need to consult with factory agents.

Moving to heifers and bullocks, quotes remain unchanged for these animals and stand at 375c/kg for steers and 385c/kg for slaughter-ready heifers.

Similar to the bull trade, there seems to be plenty of cows available for slaughter, and thus, cow prices remain unchanged.

260c/kg is on offer for P-grade animals. In addition, procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers for O-grade cows at 270c/kg and R-grading cows are hovering around the 300c/kg mark.

Cattle supplies

Cattle throughput is heading back towards the pre-Christmas period, with 35,810 head of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending January 13.

Factories are making their way through the large number of bulls available for slaughter and this is evident in the bull kill. The number of young bulls slaughtered increased from 5,075 head to 6,223 head – an increase of 1,148 head.

In addition, the number of aged bulls also increased; supplies of these animals are up by 297 head when compared to the previous week’s kill.

During this week, factories also increased steer throughput. The number of bullocks increased by 1,661 head amounting to 10,668 head. Similarly, heifer throughput also recorded a rise and jumped by 2,634 head.

Moreover, cow throughput increased from 4,990 head to 7,254 head during the week ending January 13 – an increase of 2,264 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending January 13):
  • Young bulls: 6,223 head (+1,148 head or +22.6%);
  • Bulls: 486 head (+297 head or +157%);
  • Steers: 10,668 head (+1,661 head or +18.4%);
  • Cows: 7,254 head (+2,264 head or +45.3%);
  • Heifers: 11,156 head (+2,634 head or +31%);
  • Total: 35,810 head (+7,988 head or +28.7%).

Year-on-year supplies

While we are only three weeks into the new year, the number of cattle processed in Irish beef plants is up slightly on the same period last year.

So far this year, 63,632 head of cattle have been slaughtered – up from 63,218 head in 2018. This represents a 414 head increase.

Young bull, aged bull, and cow throughput is up on 2018 levels; however, the numbers of steers and heifers slaughtered in the first three weeks of 2019, when compared to the corresponding period in 2018, is back by 879 head and 448 head respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: 11,298 head (+464 head or +4.2%);
  • Bulls: 675 head (+111 head or +19.6%);
  • Steers: 19,675 head (-879 head or -4.2%);
  • Cows: 12,244 head (+1,218 head or +11%);
  • Heifers: 19,678 head (-448 head or -2.2%);
  • Total: 63,632 head (+414 head or +0.6%).