Friesian steers have potential for higher margin in current beef price climate – Teagasc

Speaking at a Teagasc beef and sheep seminar titled ‘Practical Advice for a Challenging Time’, Teagasc beef specialist – Aidan Murray – outlined that finishing Friesian steers has the potential to leave higher margins compared to any other beef system under the current price climate.

He said: “When I was doing the budgets for finishing systems in September, the Friesian was the animal that offered the most potential.

“If a farmer goes out in the autumn time and buys a 330-400kg Friesian, stores it over the winter and slaughters it next autumn, those animals need approximately €3.30/kg to breakeven.

“That was the lowest value of all the stock that we looked at; they were the least risk because of the price/kg at the moment for that type of stock. There are farmers that have been buying 400-450kg Friesians over the past couple of months and they are getting them at €1.00-1.15/kg.

“So, there is definitely a potential margin on those animals,” he added.

Touching on other 2019-2020 winter finishing budgets, he said: “If a farmer was to buy a continental steer at 530kg and slaughter it at 670kg liveweight (375kg carcass weight), the total cost of finishing that animal would be €438 over a 140-day finishing period (gaining 1kg/day).

“In turn, the farmer would require €4.21/kg to just breakeven breakeven on that steer,” he said.

Also Read: Can winter finishing deliver any margin for beef farmers in 2020?

“I don’t care if farmers go down the line of finishing calves from the dairy herd or the suckler herd, as long as there is a few pound to be made out of it for the farmer that is all that matters.”

Addressing approximately 150 farmers during the seminar – which was chaired by AgriLand’s Claire Mc Cormack – Aidan also spoke about the challenges facing farmers and offered some solutions and advice to beef finishers.

These include:

  • Decisions such as whether to finish cattle this winter or not, choice of feed ingredients or the type of cattle to buy back in;
  • The outlook for beef and lamb over the next number of months;
  • Tips on how best to deal with cash-flow, debt management and loan restructuring.

Continuing, Aidan said: “The price of feed is back on last year and there is value to be got if farmers are willing to shop around.”

Aidan spoke about the issues around weanling cattle and how the shipping trade has slowed up recently and that 400kg animals are a harder sell compared to last year.

Plainer quality stock are struggling to reach the €2.00/kg mark; however, good-quality stock are still commanding a good price.

“If farmers were to get €2.00/kg today, that means €2.10/kg is needed next spring to just breakeven or €2.21/kg to make a profit of €50/head.

Weanlings need to be gaining 0.6kg/day over the winter period, therefore good-quality feed needs to be offered.

Aidan added: “A typical weanling diet should consist of 2kg/day of concentrates, along with 68% dry matter digestibility (DMD) silage.

“Meal feeding pays and feeding concentrates pre-housing will help to meet target weights and don’t rely on compensatory growth the following spring.”

Source: Teagasc

Commenting on the beef kill, he said: “Last week was the first week the kill was higher than the corresponding week last year; however, it was only greater by 500/head.