It’s no secret at this stage that factory-fit cattle continue to be in short supply, as demand continues to surge for Irish beef.

Despite this, some processors in the southern half of the republic are digging their heels in this week in an effort to ‘keep a lid’ on beef prices.

However, processors in the northern half of the republic are lifting quotes this week and are very eager to secure cattle.

While some factory agents are making their best efforts to ‘talk down’ the trade in the run up to Christmas, the mart trade tells a very different story, with forward store and beef-type bullocks making an average price of €2.36/kg and a top price of €2.56/kg for a 700kg bullock making €1,790 at Delvin Mart last Thursday.

Procurement officers citing prices at last Monday’s levels are acutely aware that it will take at least 5c/kg more to secure supplies of beef from the bigger finishers, but seem to be attempting to secure smaller lots at these lower prices.

Procurement officers will be keen to secure any available cattle this week and farmers with suitable cattle should bargain hard before agreeing on a price and a day to book in cattle.

Factory quotes

Starting with heifers and €4.30/kg on the grid was quoted to Agriland this morning from a number of processors in the northern half of the republic, with one processor in the northwest quoting €4.35/kg on the grid along with a 10c/kg bonus for in-spec animals with a carcass weight of between 300-400kgs.

This would leave an in-spec Angus heifer grading an R3 with a carcass weight of 350kg coming into €4.85/kg at this particular Donegal-based factory.

Despite this, some processors are opening quotes at €4.25/kg for heifers but are likely having to pay more to secure any significant numbers.

Next up is steers and €4.25/kg on the grid is the general run here this week, with the same Donegal-based processor putting forward a quote of €4.30/kg for steers and the same 10c/kg carcass weight bonus available across all categories.

Again, some processors are putting forward shyer quotes of €4.20/kg for bullocks but it is likely the lower quote won’t cut any ice as regards to securing larger numbers of bullocks.

Looking at cows and good, well fleshed, U-grading cows are comfortably securing over €4.00/kg from processors buying larger numbers of cows this week.

Plainer cows in their respective grades are securing €3.85, €3.65 and €3.55/kg for R, O and P-grade cows respectively, with up to 10c/kg more available for well fleshed, better-type cows in their respective grades.

Factories are seeing a large amount of ‘P1’ grade cows coming straight from the parlor presently, and are keen to secure bunches of well fleshed, better-type cows when they come across them.

Looking at under-24 month bulls, and U-grade bulls are being quoted at a flat-price of €4.30/kg.

€4.20, €4.00 and €3.90/kg is on offer for ‘middle of the road’ R, O and P-grade bulls respectively, with more money to be secured for better-type bulls in their respective grades.

Finally, under-16 month bulls are generally quoted at €4.20/kg on the grid, with more money available in some cases.

A mid-week lift in prices could be seen again this week depending on how successful procurement staff are at securing cattle, but the one certainty is that good beef cattle are scarce and remain in high demand.