Prime cattle prices take another hit as processors ‘turn up the heat’

Prime cattle prices have fallen for the second consecutive week and 10c/kg has now been knocked off base prices in 14 days.

Similar to last week, factory buyers dropped another 5c/kg off steer and heifer quotes.

As it stands, most plants are now offering 395c/kg for steers and 405c/kg for heifers, when Quality Assurance payments are ignored. However, some deals are being done at higher prices, although these are becoming more scarce.

Some prominent beef finishers have raised concerns relating to the price cuts being imposed. Many are fearful that factory buyers will continue to lower base quotes further. This is something that seemed unlikely when steer and heifer quotes were sitting at 405c/kg and 415c/kg respectively in recent weeks.

In-spec, R+3= heifers made a top price of 438.99c/kg during the week ending January 7, while the average price paid stood at 431.51c/kg.

Furthermore, a top price of 429.51c/kg was achieved for R+3= steers; the average price paid for these animals stood at 416.75c/kg.


Again, farmers have been urged to dig in their heels and bargain hard when it comes to marketing their stock.

Cow prices remain steady

Despite the downward pressure witnessed in the steer and heifer markets, cow prices remain largely unchanged from last week.

Buyers are offering 315-325c/kg to purchase P-grade animals. In addition, procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers for O-grade and R-grade cows at 330c/kg and 350c/kg respectively. Click here for a detailed breakdown of prices

Beef cattle supplies increase

The number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants rose by 59.4% or 11,260 head during the week ending January 7. This was to be expected as factories returned to a five-day week.

All of the categories of cattle recorded increases. Steer and heifer supplies were up by 61.3% and 78.4% respectively on the previous week’s kill.

An increase was also witnessed in terms of cow throughput and supplies of these animals were up by 72.6% when compared to the week ending December 31.

During the first week of 2018, Department of Agriculture official figures show that 30,187 head of cattle were slaughtered in approved export plants – an increase of 2,197 head or 7.8% on the corresponding period in 2017.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending January 7):
  • Young bulls: 5,173 head (+951 head or +22.5%);
  • Bulls: 226 head (+109 head or +93.1%);
  • Steers: 10,299 head (+3,916 head or +61.3%);
  • Cows: 4,649 head (+1,957 head or +72.6%);
  • Heifers: 9,840 head (+4,327 head or +78.4%);
  • Total: 30,187 head (+11,260 head or +59.4%).