East/West divide as steer quotes drop as low as 370c/kg

Beef processors in the west of Ireland have made a significant move this week as some have dropped steer quotes to 370c/kg.

Deteriorating weather conditions have been blamed for this price cut, as factory yards are beginning to fill up with cattle after heavy rain in recent days.

The majority of factories are now offering 370-375c/kg for steers and 380-385c/kg for heifers on the grid, with the lowest of prices tending to come from factories west of the Shannon.

Farmers in the south and east of the country can expect to be quoted 375c/kg and 385c/kg for steers and heifers respectively.

However, procurement managers lacked confidence in terms of this price holding up next week, with a number saying prices are likely to fall further next week.

But despite the easing in steer and heifer quotes, cull cow prices remain largely unchanged from last week, with P grade cows generally being quoted at 290c/kg while buyers are offering 280c/kg for O grade lots.

Cattle prices:
  • Steers: 370-375c/kg
  • Heifers: 380-385c/kg
  • O grade cows: 280c/kg
  • P grade cows: 290c/kg

Cattle supplies continue to climb on a weekly basis

The number of prime cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants jumped by 4.6% during the week ending September 4 compared to the week before.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that the combined kill of young bulls, steers and heifers increased by 1,093 head.

Looking at the kill on an individual basis, there was a fall in young bull slaughterings (-6.8%) during the week ending September 4, while steer and heifer throughput climbed by 901 head (6.3%) and 344 head (4.8%) respectively.

However, despite the increase in prime cattle supplies, both aged bull and cow throughput fell by 13.6% (98 head) and 0.8% (59 head) respectively during the week ending September 4.

In total, beef cattle supplies in Irish plants increased by 3% to 32,440 head during the first week of September, which is an increase of 951 head or 3% compared to the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: -152 head (-6.8%)
  • Bull: -98 head (-13.6%)
  • Steer: +901 head (+6.3%)
  • Cow: -59 head (-0.8%)
  • Heifer: +344 head (+4.8%)
  • Total: +951 head (+3%)

Cattle supplies up 3% in 2016

Figures from the Department also show that beef cattle supplies have increased by 3% or 31,072 head so far this year on 2015 levels.

Young bulls account for the majority of this increase, with throughput up 28% or 31,229 head so far this year, while cull cow slaughterings have also jumped by 9,529 head or 4.7% on last year.

But, figures from the Department also show that steer, aged bull and heifer throughputs have all declined so far this year, with supplies back by 6,130 head, 3,623 head and 90 head respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +31,229 head (+28%)
  • Bull: -3,623 head (-14.5%)
  • Steer: -6,130 head (-1.5%)
  • Cow: +9,529 head (+4.7%)
  • Heifer: -90 head (0%)
  • Total: +31,072 head (+3%)

Main markets for Irish beef

The British cattle trade continues to meet a robust trade due to tight supplies and relatively good demand, Bord Bia reports.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB show that British R4L grade steers averaged 362.6p/kg during the week ending August 27, which is the equivalent of 430c/kg.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the average R3 steer made the equivalent of 394c/kg, while R3 heifers were a cent cheaper at 393c/kg.

According to Bord Bia, the French market continues to be underpinned by difficulties getting imported product onto retail shelves.

Demand remains slow, it says, but it is hoped that it will pick up in the coming weeks. Retail promotions continued to focus on domestically produced mince and rump steaks.

Little change was also seen in the demand for beef on the Italian market last week, but the R3 young bull price had improved by 4c/kg to 380c/kg.