Slight ease in beef cattle supplies but prices hold steady

Procurement managers have reported a slight ease in the number of cattle coming forward for slaughter this week.

Despite the inclement weather in recent days, factory buyers, in some cases, have said that beef cattle supplies are lower than previous weeks.

But, it must be noted that many plants are still working two-to-three days ahead when taking orders for slaughter.

In previous weeks, factory buyers had been booking in cattle up to seven days in advance of slaughter. But, on the back of a relatively large February kill, supplies have eased slightly in some areas.

To counteract tightening supplies, some factories are offering deals on transport and clipping.

During February, some 139,910 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants – almost 20,000 head more than factories generally require in any four-week period.

Prices hold steady

The majority of factory buyers are continuing to offer 380-385c/kg for steers and 390-395c/kg for heifers, but some are willing to pay a little extra on top of the base to secure quality and quantity.

Cow prices remain in a similar position to last week at 330-340c/kg for R grades, 310-315c/kg for O grades and 305-310c/kg for P grade animals.

R grade young bull prices have also remained unchanged, with factory buyers starting negotiations with farmers at 390c/kg.

Last week’s prices

Looking at prices from the week ending February 20, factories paid an average of 403c/kg for base heifers – an increase of 0.35c/kg on the week before.

These prices include Quality Assurance Scheme payments, where applicable, and breed-specific bonuses such as the Hereford and Angus premiums.

base heifer price

The national steer base price for the week ending February 20 stood at 392c/kg, up 0.89c/kg on the week before. Like the heifer price, the steer price included breed and other bonuses.

base steer price

For a detailed breakdown of factory prices, check out Agriland’s Factory price tool kit.Here

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the UK cattle trade has eased again with strong supplies reported and demand remaining best for in-spec cattle.

Prices for British R4L steers, from the AHDB, decreased again and averaged 359.8p/kg or 419.74c/kg for the week ending February 25.

In terms of heifer prices, British R3 heifers made the equivalent of 419c/kg, while heifers in Northern Ireland averaged 410c/kg.

The French market continues to remain poor, Bord Bia reports, due to low demand with a decrease seen for offal-type products and traditional cuts such as entrecotes and steaks.

Low demand is currently being filled by sufficient domestic supplies with promotions at retail level being limited to domestically produced ribs.

The latest R3 young bull price was unchanged making on average 374c/kg, while the O3 cow price was up 3c/kg to 311c/kg.