A critical factor for the beef sector going forward is a strong live export trade for dairy calves says IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said the decisions farmers make regarding calves from the dairy herd this spring will be crucial in the years ahead.
“What happens this spring will have a significant impact for farmers selling cattle in two years’ time,” he said.
According to Burns, the IFA is very clear that we need to have a strong live export trade for price competition and particularly for male calves from the dairy herd.
He said in 2014 the live export trade was strong with total volumes of almost 240,000 head, up 27,000 or 13% on 2013 levels.
He said calf exports were strong with almost 40,000 head to Holland, 22,000 to Belgium and 44,000 to Spain.The international live trade was also active with almost 18,000 head exported to Libya.
He said there are very strong opportunities for live exports in 2015 and IFA will work hard to drive this and maximise price competition in 2015.
Cattle Prices Rising
According to Henry Burns, cattle prices are continuing to drive on into the new year with prices rising and factories having to pay above quoted prices to get tighter supplies.
He said the base price of steers has moved up to €4.00/kg and for heifers to €4.10/kg. He said more is being paid to get numbers and top prices of €4.20/4.30 paid in order to procure specialist lots over the last few days.
He said a large number of plants are very active to purchase bulls ranging from O grade Friesians at €3.90 to R and U grade continentals, making €4.10/kg.
“Cattle supplies have tightened considerably and factories are having to pay higher prices to get stock from feeders. He said agents are finding it very difficult to get numbers and feeders are digging in, insisting on higher prices to cover the extra costs of shed feeding,” he said.
Henry Burns said cattle supplies will be very tight this spring with Bord Bia forecasting numbers to be back 150,000 head for 2015.
“Tighter supplies will make a big difference and should swing the balance in favour of the feeder selling.”