Base prices for steers up 7-10c/kg in past two weeks
Beef finishers that sold cattle for as little as 347c/kg in the past fortnight have every reason to feel as short-changed as the Welsh rugby team after their inspirational captain was red carded in last Saturday's semi-final. Since then, the base price for steers has moved upwards by 7-10c/kg and, in some cases, even more.
Significantly, this has happened despite the weekly kill continuing to run well ahead of last year's levels for the same period. Last week's estimated kill was 36,135hd, compared to 33,869hd slaughtered during the corresponding week last year. Over the past three weeks, the total kill has been approximately 7,800 animals over the same three weeks in 2010, yet quotes and prices have improved in the past fortnight.
I have also heard reports of factory men literally chasing to farms as soon as they hear the farmer has beef to sell. I understand that even the most hardened grid operators have broken ranks and agreed to deal on a flat price system in order to buy cattle. All in all, it is a very positive period for the cattle trade.
Quotes show an improvement of 3-6c/kg but prices appear to be up by anything from 3-10c/kg. The general quote for steers is 353-355c/kg but most farmers are holding out for a base of 355-365c/kg. It is a similar story for heifers, with quotes ranging from 358-364c/kg but averaging 364-375c/kg. Flat prices of 336c/kg have been attained in the east for a mix of P and O-grade over-age steers.
Donegal has upped its price by 12c/kg after reportedly losing heifers and bulls to plants further south.
In-spec U-grade heifers are now making 387c/kg, with Rs at 378c/kg. O+ grade heifers are making 370c/kg with the O- at 364c/kg. The steers are 3c/kg behind the heifers while out-of-spec cattle are at 6c/kg behind the in-spec stock.
Young bulls, according to informed sources, are scarce. Some deals for a mix of U and R grades are being done at 380c/kg. Quotes for Us range from 364-380c/kg. R grades are being quoted at anything between 350-370c/kg while the Os are at 342-358c/kg.