Demand remains strong as cattle supplies tighten

Procurement managers reported tight supplies of beef cattle last week due to the National Ploughing Championships; many found it difficult to source stock.

However, they are expecting it to become somewhat easier in the coming days and, as a result, many have resisted the temptation to rise base quotes.

Processors are offering a base price of 375-380c/kg for steers and 385-390c/kg for heifers this week – pretty much unchanged from last week.

Angus Woods, IFA National Livestock Chairman, said that finished supplies are definitely tightening and demand remains very strong. In some instances, he said, top prices of 385c/kg (steers) and 395c/kg (heifers) have been reported.

Moving to cows, factories are offering 310-320c/kg for P-grade cows and 320c/kg is on the table for O-grade animals. In addition, factories are quoting 330-340c/kg for R-grade cows and U grades are fetching up to 350c/kg.

Cattle Supplies

Some 36,104 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved plants during the week ending September 17 – an increase of 602 head or 1.6% on the previous week.

Steers and heifers accounted for 72% of all of the animals slaughtered during the week ending September 17. Steer throughput climbed by 2.4%; heifer numbers fell by 1.8%; and the young bull kill jumped by 6.7%.

However, there was some reduction in the number of aged bulls (-7.8%) slaughtered, while cow throughput was up (3.3%) during the week ending September 17.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending September 17):
  • Young bulls: 2,212 head (+149 head or +6.7%);
  • Bulls: 626 head (-49 head or -7.8%);
  • Steers: 17,726 head (+430 head or +2.4%);
  • Cows: 7,054 head (+235 head or +3.3%);
  • Heifers: 8,430 head (-153 head or -1.8%);
  • Total: 36,104 head (+602 head or +1.6%).

UK prices

In the UK, Ireland’s main export market, the AHDB reports that R3 steers are making 383p/kg; that’s the equivalent of 459c/kg (including VAT).

Woods added that UK cattle prices are running at 20p/kg higher than this time last year and market demand is very strong.

The change in the sterling exchange rate and the strong prices in the UK, he said, provide ample room for factories to increase prices back to farmers.

In addition, he also touched on the latest official Department of Agriculture prices for the week ending September 17.

These prices, he said, show that R=3= steers made an average price of 391c/kg or 8c/kg higher than this time last year.

Heifers made 400/kg while, U, R and O-grade young bulls made 403/kg, 385/kg and 371/kg respectively.