Cattle trade: Steer and heifer prices come under increased pressure

Beef cattle prices have taken another knock, with steer and heifer prices falling by 5c/kg on last week.

Fluctuations in the currency markets, particularly the euro/Sterling market, combined with increasing cattle supplies have been blamed for falling farmgate prices in recent weeks.

Last week, most processors were operating off a base price of 365c/kg for steers and 375c/kg for heifers, however, cattle buyers have blamed strong supplies in recent times for this week’s fall.

Cattle buyers are opening negotiations at 360c/kg for steers and 370c/kg for heifers, with some suggesting that an extra 5c/kg may be on offer for suitable lots.

Buyers are also actively looking for in-spec cattle and are willing to pay an additional 5c/kg on top of the base to secure these animals.

But despite the downward pressure on steer and heifer prices in recent weeks, the cull cow and young bull trade remains relatively stable.

Procurement managers are offering 270c/kg for P grade cows, 280c/kg for O grades and 310-315c/kg for the better quality R grade lots.

Young bull prices have also remained relatively unchanged, with most specialist plants working off a 370c/kg for R grade bulls and are willing to pay 10c/kg more to secure U grade animals.

Base beef prices:
  • Steers – 360c/kg
  • Heifers – 370c/kg
  • R grade cows – 310-315c/kg
  • O grade cows – 280c/kg
  • P grade cows – 270c/kg
  • U grade young bulls – 380c/kg
  • R grade young bulls – 370c/kg

Cattle supplies

There has been a slight ease in the number of beef cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants.

During the week ending October 16, the weekly beef kill reached 35,683 head, a fall of just 318 head or 0.9% on the week before.

All of the main categories of cattle, with the exception of steers, posted a fall in throughput during the week ending October 16.

Young bull slaughterings posted the highest fall, with supplies down by 10.8% or 264 head on the week before.

Furthermore, aged bull, cow and heifers slaughterings all dropped last week, with supplies back by 33 head (-5.8%), -130 head (-1.6%) and 102 head (-1.3%) respectively.

However, there was a slight increase in steer slaughterings, with the weekly beef kill of these animals up 1.2% or 200 head on the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Aged bulls: -264 head or -10.8%
  • Young bulls: -33 head or -5.8%
  • Steers: +200 head or +1.2%
  • Cows: -130 head or -1.6%
  • Heifers: -102 head or -1.3%
  • Total: -318 head or -0.9%

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, beef remains in demand in Britain following some recovery in supplies.

Prices from the AHDB (the organisation for English beef and lamb) show that British R4L grade steers averaged 367.6p/kg or 412c/kg for the week ending October 15, while R3 heifers made the equivalent of around 405c/kg.

Bord Bia also reports that there has been little change in the markets across the Continent.

Meanwhile the latest USDA global outlook is pointing towards are rise in world beef production on the back of higher supplies in the main exporting regions such as the US and Mercosur countries.

Brazil is forecast to consolidate its position as the largest global beef exporter next year with exports forecast to rise by 5% while China is anticipated to increase imports by over 15% on the back of rising consumption, Bord Bia reports.