Beef trade: Strong demand not reflecting prime cattle prices

While factory agents continue to actively source prime cattle, there is little change in prices offered at the factory gates this week.

At the moment, general quotes continue to hover around the 365c/kg mark for steers and 365-370c/kg for heifers. Saying that, more farmers are managing to achieve 370c/kg in recent times – with numbers and factory-farmer relationship the determining factors.

Under-24 month bulls are making 350c/kg for R-grades and 360c/kg for U-grading types; O-grade bulls are hovering around the 330-340c/kg mark.

Despite little movement in price for prime cattle and bulls, the cow category has witnessed a slight increase this week.

Regarding the cow trade, P-grading cows are making 290c/kg, with O-grades hovering around the 305-320c/kg mark. In addition, R-grades are achieving 315-330c/kg in the beef factories.

There were some 36,623 young bulls, aged bulls, steers, cows and heifers slaughtered in Irish beef processing plants during the week ending February 16.

Also Read: Weekly beef kill falls, but only slightly

This represents a fall of 266 head on the previous week.

Northern Ireland and UK beef trade

In Northern Ireland, base quotes from beef processing plants have been consistent recently, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

Prices haven’t done much moving for U- 3 grading steers and heifers in the last week, coming in at 324-334p/kg or 386-398c/kg.

The cow trade also stayed consistent, with base quotes of 240-250p/kg (286-298c/kg) offered for O+3 grading cows.

Prime cattle saw a slight increase in base quotes last week, with average steer and heifer prices coming in at 332.7p/kg (396c/kg) and 335.7p/kg (399.7c/kg), respectively.

However, the NI price for R3 steers fell by 1.3p/kg to 340.1p/kg (404.5c/kg), while R3 heifer prices last week were down to 341.6p/kg (406.7c/kg); both of these were back by 6.6-7.7p/kg compared to the same week last year.


Young bull prices in the north were also back last week – amounting to 313p/kg (372.6p/kg). However, the cow trade did improve last week, with 259.4p/kg (308.8c/kg) the going rate for O3 cows, while the average cow earned 240p/kg (285.7c/kg), according to the LMC.

In the UK, the prime cattle trade didn’t see much change, with average steer prices at 333.4p/kg (396.8c/kg) and heifer prices steady at 335.5p/kg (399.3c/kg), the LMC said.

Similar to here in Ireland, the cow trade in the UK appears to be on the way up, with average prices of 232.4p/kg (276.5c/kg) being offered – making it 7.6p/kg ahead of the NI price.