Maybe there is just a little hint of some festive cheer for the beef farmers, with prices strengthening ever so slightly despite another big kill of just over 32,660hd last week.
Factories are definitely very anxious to get stock with most of them killing almost full time between now and next Monday and a number of them operating on Saturday also.
The year has proven to have been an extremely expensive one to produce beef with the terribly wet conditions allied to the rising cost of meal leading to a lot of finishers operating at a loss due to a lack of any significant price rise over the past month.
At the risk of repeating myself, the price difference of 70c/kg between here and Britain is very difficult for the Irish farmer to accept and does nothing to improve their trust in the processors. It translates into a loss of €280/hd on a steer killing out at 400kg.
Quotes and prices for the bullocks this week seem to range from 395c/kg to 405c/kg, with actual base prices being agreed on generally in the 400-405c/kg bracket.
The in-spec R grade going up to the northwest is making 414c/kg.
The heifer quotes vary from 415c/kg to 420c/kg but prices are more often than not at 420-425c/kg. Tops of 430c/kg on the grid have been paid in a number of plants. Mixes of R and U-grade bulls have made up to 415c/kg.
Quotes for U grades are generally around the 410-415c/kg, with the Rs at 400-410c/kg. O grades range from 390c/kg to 400c/kg, with O-grade Friesians having commanded a high of €4/kg over the past week.
The IFA's Henry Burns said that while the trade is steady, the markets are strong and that factories would have to move prices on considerably over the Christmas period and into the New Year to buy cattle.
The best I heard for cull cows was 380c/kg for U-grade continentals in the east, with Rs making 375c/kg in the midlands. Quotes and prices for the U grades run from 360c/kg to 380c/kg.
The Rs are at 350-375c/kg, with the O grades making 325-350c/kg. P+ cows range from 305c/kg to 334c/kg.
The trade in Britain was reportedly similar to the previous week, with demand remaining firm. Steak cuts were reportedly showing a strong demand, although the trade for round cuts was slower than usual.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB eased during the past week, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg362.3p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 470c/kg inclusive of VAT deadweight) for the week ended December 8.
On the Continent, trade firmed across most of the key markets, with prices reflecting this pattern. Trade was being helped by increased activity in the run up to Christmas.
In Germany, R3 young bulls increased by 7c to €4.32/kg including VAT, with O3 cow prices down 1c to €3.26/kg. R3 young bulls in Italy increased by 2c to €4.15/kg, while O3 cow prices increased by 8c to €3.07/kg.