Cull cow prices ease but demand remains strong for prime cattle

Cull cow prices have eased slightly on the back of increased throughput over the past two weeks.

The plainer dairy type cows have been hardest hit, with prices for P grade culls falling by 5-10c/kg.

Farmers selling P grade cows are currently being offered 300-310c/kg, while the same cows were making between 310-315c/kg last week.

A number of procurement managers told Agriland that there is ‘no shortage’ in the number of coming stream.

And as a result, O grade cow prices have also eased by 5c/kg. The majority of processors are now offering 320c/kg, down from a top price of 325c/kg last week.

However, the prices being offered for R grade cull cows has remained relatively stable, with most procurement managers offering 350-355c/kg for these lots.

Prime cattle in demand

Prime cattle continue to remain in demand, on the back of a lower beef kill over the past two weeks.

However, procurement managers added that it is a little easier to secure stock as a ‘small number’ of grass cattle are starting to appear.

Supplies of steers, heifers and young bulls have remained relatively unchanged over the past seven weeks, resulting in a sub-30,000 head kill.

Along with a relatively stable supply of cattle, the price of prime cattle has also remained unchanged from last week.

Most factories are now offering a base price of 400-405c/kg for steers, while finishers selling heifers are being offered 415-420c/kg.

Looking at young bull prices, farmers selling R grade bulls can expect a base price of 405c/kg, O grade bulls are making 390c/kg, while P grade bulls are selling at 385c/kg.

Cattle supplies remain tight

Irish prime cattle supplies continued to remain tight, recent figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show.

During the week ending June 7, just over 20,000 young bulls, steers and heifers were slaughtered at Department approved beef export plants.

This means that the prime cattle kill has reduced by 5.8% between the week ending June 7 and the week before.

However, despite the decline in prime cattle throughput, the number of young bulls slaughtered during the week ending June 7 jumped by 9% compared to the week before.

But, steer and heifer throughout has declined by 14% (1,401 head) and 3% (222 head) respectively.

The fall in prime cattle throughput means that the number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland has been below 30,000 for the last seven weeks.

However, despite cattle supplies remaining relatively tight, the number of cows slaughtered during the week ending June 7 jumped by 8% compared to the week before.

According to figures from the Department, 7,359 cows (both beef and dairy) were slaughtered during the week ending June 7.

Main markets

Britain

According to Bord Bia, the British beef market is steady, as prime cattle are in relatively short supply.

In March, British beef farmers faced queues to have their cattle slaughtered, but in recent weeks cattle numbers of tightened.

The lower number of cattle being brought forward for slaughter has resulted in the British beef trade steadying in recent weeks.

The British steer price is now the equivalent of 423c/kg, while the latest Northern Irish R3 steer price is making 406c/kg in euro terms, Bord Bia reports.

France

According to Bord Bia, there is an abundance of domestic and German beef available on the French market.

It reports that sales of striploins and rumps have yet to really take off for the barbecue season, but demand remains reasonable for flank steaks, thick steaks and ribs.

It also suggests that French beef consumption continues to remain good, as the recent bad weather and flooding has not had to negative of an impact.

Italy

The Italian beef market continues to be impacted by falling consumption rates, it says.

And, the Italian R3 young bull price has been in decline in recent weeks, with prices falling to as low as €3.72/kg.

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