Be sure to battle on price as factories desperate for stock
I was contacted by a farmer last week to say that the ICSA beef price goal of €4/kg was "some crazy target" and that we shouldn't get carried away but, then, beef has been edging closer and closer to that farmer's idea of a crazy target.
I know of at least one finisher who sold his heifers at a base of 360c/kg and ended up getting up to 390c/kg after bonuses for some of his top heifers. I also heard of one plant asking a big producer if €4/kg for heifers at the end of May would be enough to secure them. It is definitely a sellers' market at the moment, with the prices for all categories of stock hardening. Factory men are extremely active, calling to farms and also around the marts.
Base quotes for steers are generally in the 342-347c/kg range but finishers are freely securing a base of 350c/kg if they are willing to do any bit of bargaining. Heifer base quotes are at 350-355c/kg, with most producers securing a minimum of 355c/kg plus the quality assurance bonus.
Remember to watch the pence/lb selling price versus the c/kg payment as some plants do not always get it right, while others seem to always round the conversion downwards. For example, £1.26/lb converts to 352.8c/kg but I know of a farmer where this was rounded down to 352c/kg.
Donegal Meats is paying 367c/kg for in-spec R-grade heifers and 375c/kg for the Us, with the steers at 3c/kg less.
R-grade young bulls are making 347-353c/kg, the Us are at 353-361c/kg and the O grades are making 330-336c/kg. There are strong rumours doing the circuit that flat prices of up to 364c/kg are being negotiated for bulls.
Top-quality cull cows are at 322-330c/kg, R grades are making 308-319c/kg, O grades are in the 294-308c/kg bracket and the P+ cows are making 280-291c/kg.
The IFA's Michael Doran said finishers need to ensure that they are getting the best price available, as there are significant differences between prices being paid -- and he urged farmers to get a few different quotes before deciding where to sell.