Farmers with batches of finished cattle to sell this week have been offered flat-price deals of €5/kg and upwards in cases.

Some agreements with factories are even covering haulage, as the demand for beef has increased significantly over the past fortnight.

And while factory quotes have increased, so too have mart prices, with a significant lift in demand for heavy, finished cattle from northern customers in particular.

Factory supplies dipped slightly in the week ending Sunday, September 3, with over 33,000 head of cattle slaughtered at Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) approved slaughter plants. This figure is back over 1,100 head on the number of cattle slaughtered in the previous week.

A look at the latest official factory steer prices from DAFM shows that as high as €4.90/kg (inclusive of all bonuses) was paid for O+3- grade steers in the week ending Sunday, August 27, while over €5.00/kg was paid for R=3= grade steers in the same week.

The price increases will be welcomed by farmers with forward and finished cattle to sell, however the unusual trend of price increases at this time of year will pose challenges for winter-beef finishers who will now have to pay more for store cattle than originally anticipated.

Mart perspective

Speaking to Agriland, the manager of Carnaross Mart in Co. Meath, Padraig McElroy, said there was over 700 bullocks on offer at the mart’s weekly bullock sale on Monday (September 4).

“Over 150 of the bullocks in the sale were sold to customers in Northern Ireland. Over 50 heifers went to northern customers at the weekly heifer sale on Thursday, August 31,” he said.

“The export demand for cattle at the mart is very, very, busy at the moment.”

The Carnaross Mart manager said the average 500kg bullock has increased in price by €80-100/head in the past three weeks.

“Some of the top prices at the Monday sale were among the last cattle into the ring. We had a 660kg bullock sold for €2,250 or €3.41/kg. There was another 710kg bullock sold at €2,340 or €3.30/kg,” he said.

With farmers, feedlots, factory agents and northern customers all competing strongly, “the trade was just serious” he said.