May beef returns increase marginally

An analysis of the average prices paid for base steers and heifers during the first two weeks of May 2018 shows that returns are up marginally on the corresponding period in 2017.

During the first fortnight of May 2018, base steers achieved an average price of 423.8c/kg, while base heifers generated an average return of 434.7c/kg, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

When compared to the corresponding two week period in 2017, these prices are 5.3c/kg higher for base steers and 4.6c/kg higher for base heifers.

Looking at the average carcass weights produced by these animals, the average base steer carcass during the first two weeks of this month stood at 374.9kg – up 4.6kg on the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the average base heifer carcass weighed 310.7kg – down only 0.2kg when compared to those produced during the corresponding period in 2017.

At the above prices and grades, the average base steer would have generated a return of €1,588.82 in the first two weeks of May this year, while heifers generated €1,350.63.

When based on an average of the carcass weights produced during the first two week period in 2017 and 2018 (372.6kg for steers and 310.9kg for heifers), steers returns were €19.75/head higher this year and heifer returns were up by €14.41/head.

Cattle supplies continue to tighten

Over recent weeks, there has been a noticeable contraction in cattle supplies and factory buyers are having to work hard to secure numbers.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that just 29,441 cattle were slaughtered in approved export plants during the week ending May 13.

Although the bank holiday Monday had an influence on throughput numbers during this period, a similarly small weekly beef kill was witnessed during the week ending May 6, when just 31,223 cattle were marketed through the factories.

On the back of tightening supplies, farmers are being encouraged to dig in and bargain hard when it comes to marketing their stock.

Base quotes of as high as 420c/kg for steers and 430c/kg for heifers have been mooted and there may also be potential to seek concessions on transport charges, age limits and carcass weights.