Bullish beef sector set for bumper year
There was good news on the double for beef farmers this week, with prices up €20 to €40/hd in the marts and the outlook for the year ahead remaining positive.
The cattle trade came back with a bang from the Christmas break, with exceptional prices paid for stock in the first sales of the new year.
George Candler of Kilkenny Mart described the trade last Thursday as "phenomenal", although he wondered if some of the buyers were suffering from "cabin fever" after the festive break.
Top quality cull cows made up to €2/kg. Store bullocks made up to €2.30/kg and heavy heifers up to €2.10-2.20/kg.
It was a similar story in Carnew Mart, Co Wicklow, according to David Quinn, with lively competition between farmers keeping a firm floor on the trade.
He said heavy bullocks were €40/hd dearer at €750 to €1,080 over the €1/kg, while prices for butchers' heifers were €50/hd up on the pre-Christmas trade. Heavy fleshed continental cows were making €900 to €1,100 with their weight.
Meanwhile, Bord Bia beef specialist Mark Zieg told a major industry meat seminar in Dublin last Friday that cattle numbers would remain tight for the first nine months of the year.
With between 50,000 and 80,000 fewer cattle in the system this year, Mr Zieg predicted that the weekly factory kill would fall by 1,200-1,400hd.