€150 variation recorded in factory steer returns
Wide disparity also reported in penalties and bonuses for heifers
A difference of up to €150/hd has emerged for steers of similar grade and weight depending on the factory to which the animals are supplied for slaughter.
Wide variations are also being reported in the level of penalties and bonuses for heifers.
Big differences in premiums for quality stock and penalties for the poorer grading animals between factories has become a pattern of the trade as cattle supplies have tightened and producers maintain pressure on base prices.
Analysis of the prices paid for O-grade steers for the week ending May 20, compiled by the Department of Agriculture, revealed an eight-fold difference in penalties, with individual factories penalising O-4= steers by up to 48c/kg. The lowest penalty applied was 5c/kg. The national average penalty applied was 21c/kg, but the penalty applied at 18 of the 25 meat plants was higher than average for the week.
The seven factories who penalised less than average were Kildare Chilling, Ashbourne Meats, Slaney Meats, Donegal Meats, Jennings, Dunbia and Euro Farm Foods.
There was a four-fold difference in the penalty from base price for O=3+ steers, which ranged from 6c/kg to 26c/kg.
On the plus side, similar variations were revealed. Producers were paid between 4c/kg and 12c/kg over base price for U=4+ steers and between 7c/kg and 29c/kg extra for U=2+ stock, depending on the factory.