Factory cattle price has continued to move upwards this week, with factories paying more for cows and bulls but holding quotes, at the higher end of the scale, for heifers and steers.

As the May Bank Holiday weekend approaches and summer is on the way, the demand for manufacturing beef is set for a lift and the rise in quotes for under-24-month bulls and cows reflects this.

Many processors are weary of their suppliers veering towards bull beef systems as when markets turn, the bull beef trade can get very sticky. However, the reality is that bull beef is a strong trade in the present market.

Cow price is continuing to move upwards and procurement agents are willing to negotiate on price where good cows are on offer. Farmers who have cull cows that are factory-fit are managing to secure a good deal more than initial processor quotes – in some cases.

Prices this week

Most, if not all, processors have moved on to a base price of €4.90/kg for heifers this week.

Foyle Meats in Co. Donegal’s 10c/kg weight bonus for cattle with a carcass weight between 300-400kg brings their offering for heifers of this spec to €5/kg on the grid.

€4.80-€4.85/kg is what’s on offer for steers, with tops of €4.95/kg for bullocks over 300kg in carcass weight.

Breed bonuses have moved on also, and many processors are offering 30c/kg for in-spec Angus heifers and steers – with as high as 25c/kg breed bonus available for Hereford heifers and steers.

There is a noticeable variation in quotes for cows this week.

Many of the processors who are anxious for cows have moved quotes on 5-10c/kg, while others are attempting to hold back on quotes but are paying more to secure any significant number of cows.

Quotes for P-grade cows are coming in at €4.35-€4.45/kg this week and processors opening negotiations for good O-grade cows at €4.45-€4.55/kg.

€4.65 – €4.75 is on offer for R-grade cows and €4.75-€4.85/kg is on offer for U-grade cows. Strong demand for cow beef means farmers who have good cows to sell will likely come out the better of a hard bargain with their factory agent on the price/kg.

Mart reports from the weekend show northern customers were making their presence felt on the beef trade, with an 816kg Charolais dry cow making €2,600 or €3.19/kg at Balla Mart, Co. Mayo at the weekend.

The strong mart trade offers an alternative sale option to farmers who are unhappy with what their factory agent is offering them for beef.

For under-24 month bulls, 5.00/kg is on offer for fleshed U-grade bulls. Most procurement officers are starting negotiations for bulls at a flat price of €4.95/kg for U-grades, €4.85 for R-grades, €4.75 for O-grade bulls and €4.65 for P-grade bulls.

Interestingly, the 20c/kg price differential between R and O-grade bulls seems to be ‘out the window’ at some processing sites over the past few weeks. This likely indicates scope for more money to be secured where groups of well-finished bulls are on offer.

Finally, under-16-month bulls are being quoted at €4.85/kg on the grid this week.