Strong supplies of finished prime factory cattle has meant a few beef processors have reduced quotes for this week’s kill, while others have held quotes at last week’s levels.

Some processors are citing lower quotes but admitting there may be “a few cents more” per kilo to be secured where numbers of well-finished cattle are presented.

Interestingly, a number of factory procurement managers told Agriland that due to a rise in the number of short-fleshed cattle appearing for processing, procurement managers are sending agents out to view cattle and ensure they are sufficiently fleshed before agreeing a price and a day for processing.

In regions of the country where cattle are very plentiful, processors are becoming more selective of what cattle they fill their kill sheets with.

High meal prices have resulted in many farmers opting not to feed concentrates to beef cattle this year and the large numbers of forward-type store bullocks seen at marts over the past number of weeks is evidence of this trend.

In the week ending Sunday, September 4, a total of 36,322 cattle was processed (excluding veal). Of these cattle, 18,610 or 51% were bullocks.

This was the highest weekly throughput of bullocks to date this year. Figures for last week’s kill will be available tomorrow (Tuesday, September 13).

Getting cattle booked in for processing is taking a little longer than usual at many processing sites, with one procurement manager telling Agriland: “I’m thronged with cattle at the moment. It will be St. Valentines’ Day before they [finished cattle] start to get scarce again.”

Despite this, Irish beef remains in high demand and the latest data from Bord Bia shows the Irish prime cattle price is 20c/kg below the equivalent EU young bull price and 31c/kg below the UK steer price.

This would leave Irish prices with plenty of scope for a potential increase.

Factory prices

Processors are paying base prices ranging from €4.75-4.85/kg on the grid for in-spec steers, with an additional 5-10c/kg available for heifers at the stronger-paying outlets this week.

Cow quotes have also eased slightly, with more money available for well-fleshed heavy cows with carcass weights above 270kg.

U-grade cows are being quoted at €4.70/kg with €4.60/kg being quoted for R-grade cows. €4.40/kg and €4.30/kg are being quoted for O and P-grade cows respectively this week. While the above prices are what factories are quoting, prices paid to farmers for well-finished cows may be above this.

Looking at under-24-month bulls and a flat price of €4.80/kg and €4.90/kg is on offer for R and U-grade bulls at some outlets this week, with €4.60 and €4.50/kg on offer for O and P-grade bulls, respectively, this week.

Some factories are more keen than others for bulls depending on their jobs for processing beef.

Finally, under-16-month bulls are €4.80/kg on the grid.