Factories slow to increase beef price despite an ease in cattle numbers

Factories are slow to increase the beef price this week, despite a reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved beef plants.

Most factories are maintaining quotes at last week’s levels, with cattle meeting the age and weight specifications continuing to see the best demand.

Steer prices have remained unchanged at 395-400c/kg, but some farmers are being paid up to 405c/kg for in-spec animals.

Like last week, procurement managers are continuing to offer 400-410c/kg for heifers on the grid.

At current base price levels a heifer with a 300kg carcass will make €1,200, while a 380kg steer carcass has a base value of just over €1,480.

However, a number of procurement managers told Agriland that cattle supplies are likely to tighten significantly as we head towards June, before increasing in the second half of the year.

According to Bord Bia, cattle supplies are likely to remain tight in May and June, before an extra 60,000-80,000 cattle come on stream in the second half of the year, due to higher calf births in 2014 and lower live-cattle exports.

The cow price has also remained static, despite a 4% drop in slaughterings during the week ending April 24.

Farmers selling R grade cows can expect to be offered 340c/kg, while the lesser quality P and O grade lots are making 310-315c/kg and 320-325c/kg respectively.

Cow prices:
  • R grade cows – 340c/kg
  • O grade cows – 320-325c/kg
  • P grade cows – 310-315c/kg

Cattle supplies

There was some ease in the number of cattle slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending April 24.

Overall, the number of cattle killed declined by almost 4% compared to the week earlier, figures from the Department’s beef kill data show.

The fall occurred as the number of prime cattle (steers, heifers and young bulls) killed during the week ending April 24 dropped by 3% compared to the week before when prime cattle throughput was back by 1%.

Official figures also show that there has been a fall in the number of aged bull and cow slaughterings, which have dropped by 2% and 4% respectively.

Main markets

The British beef price continues to slide, according to Bord Bia, with steer and heifer prices back by another 2p/kg last week.

It says that in euro terms, the British steer price is now the equivalent of €4.16/kg, while figures from the European Commission show that UK R3 heifers are now cheaper than similar Irish heifers.

Bord Bia also reports that the French beef trade remained under pressure last week, with little demand evident for imported beef at retail level, as retailers focus exclusively on domestically produced beef.

It also reports that the French beef trade remained under pressure last week, with little demand for imported beef at retail level.

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