The weekly beef kill continues to rise, with more steers and young bulls coming online in plants, but despite the increase, this week’s beef prices remain unchanged.

According to IFA’s cattle price update, the prime steer price is the same as last week at 390c/kg, excluding the 12c/kg payment for Quality Assured animals.

There has been very little or no movement in heifer prices, with plants offering 400-405c/kg for these animals.

The IFA price update also shows that the cull cow price remains static, with R grade culls cows making 345c/kg, the plainer P type cow selling for 310c/kg, while O grade cows are being quoted at 320c/kg.

However, despite the trade remaining relatively steady, bull producers are really starting to feel the pinch.

This is because the price is no where near the €4/kg breakeven price that Teagasc’s Pearse Kelly spoke about at a recent farm walk.

The number of young bulls coming forward for slaughter has also increased in recent weeks, with these animals generally making 370-390c/kg.

According to Bord Bia’s Joe Burke, the prices paid for young bulls suffers when the beef kill is high.

He said that many farmers chose to finish bulls over the winter due to the “encouraging prices” available for these animals, but they are starting to feel the effects of a lower young bull price now.

IFA beef price update
  • Steer base – 390c/kg
  • Heifer base – 400-405c/kg
  • Young bull (O) – 370c/kg
  • Young bull (R) – 380c/kg
  • Young bull (U) – 390c/kg
  • Cows – 310-360c/kg

Weekly beef kill

The Irish cattle trade continues to be underpinned by strong numbers, Bord Bia says.

The most recent beef kill data figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the weekly beef kill is well above 30,000 head, with 33,961 cattle slaughtered in the week ending February 7, 2016.

The week-on-week beef kill for the week ending February 7 has also increased on the previous week, with approximately 2,000 more cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved export plants.

The majority of this increase comes on the back of an increase in young bull (+1,695) and steer (+830) slaughterings, while the cow (-523) and heifer (-173) kill have dropped.

The total beef kill for the first five weeks of 2016 was also higher than 2015 levels, as there were 14,831 more animals slaughtered at Irish beef plants.

Key export markets

The trade for Irish beef has remained slow across the key export markets, according to Bord Bia.

It says that there has been some signs of stability seen in the UK market on the back of improvement in the demand for steak cuts.

The British cattle price also remained steady last week, with the AHDB reporting R4L steers making 342p/kg or the equivalent of 440c/kg.

However, Bord Bia’s Joe Burke said that Irish beef sales to the UK could come under increasing price pressure in the near future due to changes in the euro to Sterling exchange rate.

Bord Bia says there has been little change in the French market as consumers focus on purchasing domestically produced beef following protests by farmers in January of this year.

The Italian market remains relatively steady with forequarter beef trading best, it says.

The recent opening of the Egyptian export market was also welcomed by Bord Bia’s Joe Burke.

He said that this market has the capacity to take 150,000 head of cattle each year and it is also a viable market for dairy male cattle.

This is important, he said, as getting these cattle out of the Irish system thorough the live export market will keep a floor under the price of Irish beef.