Prices vary as factories forced to splash the cash
It's an ill wind, they say, that doesn't blow good to someone and this has definitely been the case over the past week. Difficult travelling conditions leading to tight supplies have forced factories to increase prices significantly to encourage farmers to sell. Those higher prices are as welcome and as necessary to Irish beef men as the return of Paul O'Connell to competitive action at the week-end was to Irish rugby.
Where are prices at the moment? Well it all depends on where you are selling, who you are selling to and what you are selling. To say that quotes and prices are steady would be akin to predicting that today's budget will be a "give away" to us all because at the moment they are all over the place.
For example, I spoke to one particular plant yesterday morning and they said that they were not quoting for heifers yet they have paid 350c/kg flat for heifers. They are not alone over in the Northeast as reports suggest that they were only matching a neighbouring factory's price late last week. So, when you compare those prices to a base heifer quote of as low as 306c/kg being offered by some plants elsewhere, you can see where I am coming from.
Suffice to say that if you have heifers to sell, make sure that you get quotes from as many factories as possible, bargain hard and decide whether you want to sell on the grid or not as a number of plants just want and need the numbers now and are more than willing to buy off the grid. It may not last too long but at the moment the ball is in the farmer's court. It should be very possible to secure anything from 318-336c/kg for heifers currently with the Southeast associated at the higher end of this range.
Base quotes for the steers are generally at 306-311c/kg but again the quotes are meaningless as prices are more often than not in the 310-320c/kg range. Those prices are mentioned no matter where in the country you are. I did hear that 320c/kg base was freely available in Waterford with Slaney and Kildare under pressure to match or lose out.
Farmers selling appear to be holding out for a minimum base of 310-316c/kg while others are doing flat deals of 314-320c/kg for their Rs and 306-308c/kg for their O grades. I heard of another farmer getting a flat price of 300c/kg for an even mix of Os and Ps. Up in the Northwest, Donegal is paying 339c/kg for the in-spec U grades and 330c/kg for the Rs. Out of spec stock are at 328c/kg and 319c/kg respectively.
The best prices I heard for young bulls was 342c/kg from at least one if not the two plants in Waterford. Donegal is paying 328c/kg for the Us, 319c/kg for the Rs, 311c/kg for the O+ and 305-308c/kg for the O grades.