Finishing is a delicate operation
With record beef prices and correspondingly high store and feed prices, caution is urged on all fronts for the coming winter for those contemplating filling their sheds.
The cycle of low autumn beef prices and low autumn store prices seems to be well and truly a thing of the past.
The autumn/spring 'price break' is what traditionally fuelled profitability in the winter finishing sector and with the exception of last winter, has not been a feature of the beef trade for many years.
Last winter's unexpected and welcome beef price rise of almost 18pc between September and April/May is unlikely to be replicated this winter. A realistic budgeted increase of 5-10pc is a more likely figure to be working off this year, but doing your figures is essential before purchasing any store cattle.
The sight of lean, "poorly done", "big for weight" stores is also very uncommon this autumn.
The excellent grass season we have just had has left the traditional store very scarce.
All buyers around the rings are encountering very fleshy animals that will take very little time to finish. The consequences of holding these animals on feed for the normal 100/140 day feeding period will result in possible over-fat carcasses which are of no benefit to the farmer or the processor.
Cattle need to be fed correctly when housed in order to reduce the time spent on feed. Projected average daily feed cost are over €3/hd in a lot of cases for mature animals, largely as a result of purchased beef blends being €60-80/t over the corresponding time last year. This will have a huge negative effect on the daily feed cost of the finishing animal.