Scarcity forces plants to breach €4/kg line in sand
One of the snippets of information that I heard somewhere along the line during Xi Jinping's visit here was that the number four is associated with death in his homeland. But the same figure is the magic number for Irish farmers selling finished steers, with many of them refusing to sell below a base price of €4/kg.
While the processors are keen to begin with quotes of 395c/kg, they are having to move up to €4/kg to secure the stock from hardened sellers.
It is a similar story for the heifers with figures of 10c/kg more for the steers. Quotes are at 400-405c/kg, with the main thrust of prices at 405-410c/kg. Supplies continue to be very scarce, with last week's estimated kill of 26,823 being some 3,400hd behind last year's levels. For the year up to February 12, the total kill was down by 8,000hd (23pc).
The British kill is also down by 12pc, while Northern Ireland showed a decline of 13pc. Incidentally, I heard of heifers making 425c/kg to travel to the North last week.
U-grade bulls are making up to 412c/kg despite the quotes normally at 400-410c/kg. R-grade quotes are at 395-400c/kg with prices of up to 410c/kg available. Plants are offering anything from 380c/kg for the O-grade bulls up to 391c/kg for the O+ bulls.
Commenting on the trade, the IFA's Henry Burns said that feeders were digging in and holding out for €4/kg for steers and 410c/kg for heifers. He added that those prices were the absolute minimum required for the farmer's efforts to be worthwhile.
As is the norm at the moment, the cows continue unchanged at a strong level. Top cows are making up to 366c/kg. R grades are generally making 350-360c/kg. Prices for the Os are at 336-354c/kg with the P+ cows at 322-342c/kg.
The cattle trade remained unchanged last week according to Bord Bia, as supplies continued to match demand levels on both the domestic and main export markets.