Beef trade steady despite supplies falling by over 17%

Some 31,237 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending December 24 – a decline of 6,775 head or 17.8% on the week before.

This fall was expected, as many finishers opted to shift cattle in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In addition, this decrease in cattle slaughterings has come about as a result of the Christmas holidays.

However, procurement managers – who actively searched for cattle over the Christmas window – secured supplies from farmers with large numbers of in-spec stock to market.

In-spec, R+3= heifers made a top price of 436.57c/kg during the week ending December 24, while the average price paid stood at 426.87c/kg.

Furthermore, a top price of 435.62c/kg was achieved for R+3= steers; the average price paid for these animals stood at 413.17c/kg.

In light of this, farmers have been urged to dig in their heels and bargain hard when it comes to marketing their stock.

Data from the week ending December 24
Click here for a detailed breakdown of prices

What are the factories offering this week?

Factories have reopened and most procurement managers are now working off a base price of 400-405c/kg for steers and 410-415c/kg for heifers.

Some buyers are still willing to pay an additional 5c/kg on top of base quotes for in-spec animals, which brings steer and heifer prices to 410c/kg and 420c/kg respectively.

Cow prices remain relatively stable this week and farmers selling P-grade cows can expect to be offered 315-330c/kg. Buyers are starting negotiations with farmers for O-grade and R-grade cows at 330c/kg and 350c/kg respectively.

A closer look at supplies

Steer and heifer throughput led the way at 9,653 head and 9,552 head respectively during the week ending December 24.

Some 6,635 cows were also slaughtered during this period, while the weekly aged and young bull kill stood at 350 head and 5,047 head respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending December 24):
  • Young bull: 5,047 head (-1,218 head or -19.4%);
  • Aged bull: 350 head (-214 head or -37.9%);
  • Steers: 9,653 head (-2,923 head or -23.2%);
  • Cows: 6,635 head (-997 head or -13%);
  • Heifers: 9,552 head (-1,423 head or -12.9%);
  • Total: 31,237 head (-6,775 head or -17.8%).

Cumulative cattle kill breaks 1.7 million head mark

The cumulative number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants reached 1.72 million during the week ending December 24.

This is a jump of 6.1% or 106,069 head on the corresponding January-to-December period in 2016.

Much of this increase in throughput can be attributed to a rise in steer and heifer slaughterings, with supplies of these animals up by 8% and 7.4% respectively.

A 4.3% jump in cow slaughters was also witnessed in 2017, leading to the overall cow kill reaching 371,327 head – a rise of 15,978 head on 2016 levels.

However, young and aged bull slaughterings have decreased on 2016 levels – down 452 head and 1,181 head respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes (week ending December 24):
  • Young bull: -452 head or -0.23%;
  • Bull: -1,181 head or -4%;
  • Steer: +54,439 head or +8%;
  • Cow: +15,978 head or +4.3%;
  • Heifer: +33,698 head or +7.4%;
  • Total: +106,069 head or +6.1%.