Cattle supplies on the rise as beef farmers face uncertain autumn

Latest figures on weekly cattle supplies at Irish export meat plants have shown supplies breaching the significant 30,000/week mark for the past two weeks.

At just over 30,500 head the beef kill for the week ending August 14 was 7% or almost 2,000 head higher compared to the corresponding week last year.

Cumulatively, supplies of young bulls are up 29% compared to the equivalent period in 2015 while cows are up 4% on 2015 numbers. Heifers remain on a par with year previous levels and steers are back 2%.

Total year to date supply at export meat plants is up 3% or 27,000 head at over 977,000 head.

cattle kill

There are no significant concerns amongst farmers of the impact of the increased supplies on beef prices in the coming months.

Furthermore, the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU is another factor creating uncertainty surrounding prices between now and Christmas.

Last week, the cattle trade remained relatively steady with little change in demand and supplies reported as tight across some categories.

In general, Bord Bia says steers were purchased at a base price of between €3.80/kg and €3.85/kg while heifers were making between €3.90/kg and €3.95/kg on the Quality Payment System.

These prices exclude the €0.12 bonus payable on in-spec QA animals. Looking at cows, O grade cow prices are generally in the range between €2.90/kg and €3.10/kg.

In Britain, Bord Bia says the market remains firm underpinned by tighter supplies with fine weather helping demand for barbeque products.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB show that GB R4L grade steers are averaging at 356.8p/kg dw (equivalent to 414c/kg dw) for the week ended August 13.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland the average R3 steer price was making the equivalent of 392c/kg. The euro has strengthened against sterling and was making around 87p sterling during the week.

This short term decline in sterling is making imported product from the eurozone less competitive and boosting exports. Meanwhile, calf registrations are up 1% for the first half of 2016 driven by an increase in beef bred calves.

In France, Bord Bia says little change in the market was reported this week however difficulties remain in getting imported product into retailers. The R3 young bull price was up 6c, on average making €3.56/kg while the O3 cow price was back 4c making around €3.12/kg.

Meanwhile in Italy, Bord Bia says little change has been reported in the market this week. The latest R3 young bull price was on average making €3.76/kg while the O3 cow price was making around €2.47/kg. Meanwhile, in Germany, supplies are reported as remaining tight.