This week’s factory quotes saw most beef processing outlets at the lower-end of the price scale move prices up, while the stronger payers held quotes for the week.

Strong beef prices are currently a major talking point among farmers, however it must be outlined that input costs have also gone through the roof on beef farms. Every penny available from the marketplace will need to be secured for farmers to get through what is shaping up to be a challenging year.

Most factories are operating a three-day kill this week as a result of St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17, and the subsequent public holiday on Friday, March 18.

While quotes have increased in most outlets, a significant difference of 25c/kg has been observed in the base price factories are quoting for in-spec heifers and steers this week.

To put this into context, a farmer who had 10 bullocks with an average carcass weight of 400kg, would receive €100/head (or €1,000 on the load) more for their cattle in the factory with the higher price than the factory with the lower price.

One beef processing outlet based in Leinster put forward a quote of €4.55/kg on the grid for bullocks for this week, while another Ulster-based processor put forward a quote of €4.70/kg plus a 10c/kg carcass bonus for cattle killing out between 300-400kg.

This would leave a 25c/kg difference in the prices quoted by these two outlets.

Before agreeing on a date to send cattle to the factory, farmers should ensure they are getting the top price available from their processor.

Where a farmer has a number of quality beef cattle with good weights and fat covers to sell, they should not be afraid to negotiate a bit on price – especially in the current market.

As a result of the short working week this week, farmers with cattle to sell may find kill sheets are as good as filled for this week in many factories.

Where this is the case, farmers with factory-fit stock may have to sit tight until early next week.

Procurement staff have predicted positive pressure will remain on beef price until at least midsummer’s day and next week will likely see prices hold, if not further uplift on beef cattle price.