There is some positive news for beef farmers this week: An increase of 5c/kg in factory quotes for finished bullocks and heifers.
Many of the factories that were quoting €4.50/kg for bullocks (steers) early last week opened quotes this morning (Monday, November 7) at €4.55/kg on the grid.
With Christmas less than seven weeks away and beef sales forecast to rise this festive season, the demand for beef looks to be in a good position.
This week and next will see much of the beef cattle for the Christmas market arrive at factories for processing.
The level of supply of finished cattle in the run up to Christmas remains unclear. Weekly beef kill numbers have more than likely past their peak for this year. Throughput will have fallen last week due to the October Bank Holiday and resulting four-day kill at most factories, and supply may be slightly distorted this week as a result of that.
Next week’s supply of factory cattle will be a good indicator of how supplies are looking into the backend of this year.
This year’s beef kill is already over 113,000 cattle (excluding veal) ahead of last year, so figures would suggest most of the finished cattle have already gone through the system.
Factory quotes: Prime cattle
Some processors are still opening steer quotes for this week at €4.50/kg, but will find it more challenging to buy cattle at that price and may have to pay 5c/kg extra for choice lots of quality in-spec bullocks.
Heifer quotes have also increased 5c/kg at many sites this week, with some processors that were quoting €4.55/kg last week now quoting €4.60/kg on the grid this week.
On the higher end of the scale, price remains unchanged in the steer and heifer categories with a base price of €4.65/kg and €4.70/kg respectively available at one Co. Donegal-based processor.
Quotes for cows have moved back up 10c/kg at some sites this week too. Factories that were quoting €3.80/kg for P-grade cows last week are quoting €3.90/kg for P-grade cows this week.
Official figures show that in the week ending Sunday (October 30), the national average price paid for an O=3= grade cow was 413.96c/kg and with quotes having lifted at some sites this week, this may give farmers a better idea of where price is at currently.
Conversations with factory agents around the country would suggest that factories are finding it difficult to buy well-finished, heavy P-grade cows at anything below €4.00/kg.
O-grade cows are being quoted at €4.00/kg this week with €4.15/kg and €4.25/kg being quoted for R- and U-grade cows respectively. Most procurement bosses will admit that good beef cows in all grades will qualify for a higher payment per kilo.
Factory quotes: Bulls
In the under-24-month bull category, flat prices of €4.20, €4.30 and €4.50, €4.60/kg, are the general run of quotes for P, O, R and U-grade bulls respectively. Again, some factories handling lower numbers are paying 10-15c/kg higher than this.
Finally, under-16-month bulls are being quoted at €4.55/kg on the grid.