Beef trade: Slaughter date delays continue

Farmer frustration has continued to mount over the continuing delays when it comes to getting cattle booked in for slaughter; these delays have been ongoing for weeks now, resulting in overage and ‘out of spec’ stock.

Factories seem to be happy to work away at the current slaughtering capacity; priority is given steers and heifers under 30 months-of-age; farmers with cattle over this age limit are facing the largest difficulty.

As mentioned last week, with the year-end looming ever closer, the commencement of the Christmas trade normally delivers more demand for beef.

Also Read: Beef trade commentary: What can be expected in the lead up to Christmas?

Last year, we saw Irish factories work at full capacity – breaking a weekly kill of 40,000 head several times in the lead up to Christmas.

The hope now is that this demand for beef will intensify and slaughter delays can be reduced.

For the most part, beef factory quotes remain unchanged when it comes to steers and heifers. Prices for steers continue at 345-350c/kg, while base quotes for heifers stand at 350-355c/kg, with the latter, higher prices on offer from Liffey Meats.

While prime cattle quotes are static, cow prices have come under pressure; beef buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for cows at 260c/kg for P-grade cows.

In addition, 270-280c/kg is on the table for O-grade animals and 300c/kg upwards is being quoted for R-grade cows. Varying prices have been paid by processors, with seller type and location of meat plant influencing prices.

Moving to bulls, factory appetite is varied with prices of 345c/kg for R-grades. O-grade bulls are hovering around the 315-320c/kg mark and 350c/kg for U-grading types; under-16 month bulls trading on the grid are quoted at 340c/kg.

Beef kill

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that some 34,388 cattle were slaughtered – a decrease of 3,505 head on the week before – during the week ending November 3.

It must be noted that the Halloween bank holiday would have affected slaughtering capacity.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending November 3):
  • Young bulls: 2,801 head (-81 head or -2.8%);
  • Bulls: 471 head (-26 head or -5.2%);
  • Steers: 14,780 head (-1,824 head or -10.9%);
  • Cows: 6,270 head (-810 head or -11.4%);
  • Heifers: 10,042 head (-758 head or -7.0%);
  • Total: 34,388 head (-3,505 head or -9.2%).

Yearly supplies are sitting at 1,456,945 head – a decrease of 57,548 head up to and including the week ending November 3.

Yearly supplies (week ending September 1):
  • Young bulls: 178,074 head (+9,363 head or +5.5%);
  • Bulls: 30,446 head (+3,234 head or +11.8%);
  • Steers: 521,281 head (-47,598 head or -8.3%);
  • Cows: 290,980 head (-43,910 head or -13.1%);
  • Heifers: 422,642 head (+17,450 head or +4.3%);
  • Total: 1,456,945 head (-57,548 head or -3.7%).

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