Cattle supplies swell, but farmers hold out for more

Cattle supplies have swelled in recent weeks. Failing ground conditions and slowed grass growth rates have intensified the pressure on some farmers to market their stock.

During the week ending October 1, some 37,452 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants. That’s an increase of 1,300 head or 5.6% when compared to a week earlier.

This is not only the highest weekly beef kill of 2017, but the highest since 37,509 cattle were slaughtered during the week ending November 8, 2014.

Acting on the back of the above mentioned supplies, some factories have moved to lower base quotes by 5c/kg. Most are now offering 370-375c/kg for steers and 380-385c/kg for heifers.

However, it must be noted that those offering lower base quotes are in the minority this week.

Farmers are also bargaining harder when it comes to marketing stock; very few are entertaining the lower base quotes on offer and are holding out for prices of 5-10c/kg above factory buyers’ original offerings.

As has been the case for a number of weeks now, cow prices are also holding steady. This comes as the demand for manufacturing beef remains particularly strong.

Farmers marketing R-grade cows can expect to be offered 340-350c/kg, 320-330c/kg is generally on the table for O-grade animals and negotiations are starting at 310-320c/kg for P-grade cows.

Steer and heifer throughput climbs

Of the 37,452 cattle slaughtered during the week ending October 1, just over 74% of these animals were steers and heifers.

Some 19,158 steers were slaughtered in beef plants that week – an increase of 500 head – and heifer throughput stood at 8,645 head.

Other throughput increases included: young bulls (+208 head); and cows and aged bulls to a lesser extent.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending October 1):
  • Young bulls: 2,249 head (+208 head or +10.2%);
  • Bulls: 585 head (+18 head or +3.2%);
  • Steers: 19,158 head (+500 head or +2.7%);
  • Cows: 6,753 head (+27 head or +0.4%);
  • Heifers: 8,645 head (+551 head or +6.8%)
  • Total: 37,452 head (+1,300 head or +4%).