Procurement managers, across the country, have reported strong numbers of beef cattle being available for slaughter.

However, yesterday’s kill is expected to be lower than usual due to the extreme weather conditions; some of the beef processing plants were even forced to shut up shop due to storm Ophelia.

This week, most factories are offering 370c/kg for steers and 380c/kg for heifers – a drop of 5c/kg on last week’s quotes.

In addition, cow price has come back slightly; processors are now offering 300-315c/kg for P-grade cows and 315-325c/kg for O-grade animals. Farmers are being offered 330-350c/kg for R-grade animals.

Cattle supplies

Some 37,771 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending October 1 – an increase of 319 head or 0.85% on the previous week.

Steers and heifers accounted for 71% of all of the animals slaughtered during the week ending October 1. Steer throughput fell by 4.7%, heifer numbers climbed by 2.4% and the young bull kill rose by just 0.44%.

However, there was some reduction in the number of aged bulls (-8%) slaughtered, while cow throughput was up (14%) during the week ending October 8.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending October 8):
  • Young bulls: 2,259 head (+10 head or +0.44%);
  • Aged bulls: 538 head (-47 head or -8%);
  • Steers: 18,242 head (-916 head or -4.7%);
  • Cows: 7,740 head (+987 head or +14%);
  • Heifers: 8,860 head (+215 head or +2.4%);
  • Total: 37,771 head (+319 head or +0.85%).

Cattle supplies at Irish export meat plants for the week ending October 8 reached almost 38,000 head.

According to Bord Bia, cumulative throughputs are up 6% or almost 70,000 head – amounting to 1.32 million head of cattle. The largest cumulative increases were seen for steers and heifers – up by 9% and 6% respectively – while cull cows are up 5%.

In contrast, supplies of young bulls are back 7% compared to the same period during 2016.

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef trade eased somewhat last week. This comes on the back of stronger throughputs and little change in demand.

In terms of price, the AHDB report that R-grade steer prices have fallen and averaged 426c/kg during the week ending October 7. In addition, British and Northern Irish R3 heifers made the equivalent of 421c/kg and 399c/kg respectively.

In France, the market was reported as being relatively quiet this week. Demand for steaks eased, while a relatively steady trade was reported for thick skirts, bavettes, ribs and tongues.

Promotions at retail level centered on French-produced chucks and rumps. Looking at producer prices, the latest R-grade young bull price was 387c/kg, while cows made 324c/kg.