Shop around to secure the best quotes being offered
The beef trade, like the Mayo defence last Sunday, remains fairly solid despite a few slight chinks. It's not unusual, as Tom Jones might say, to see the processors attempt to exert some downward pressure on prices in the week after the Galway races. While underage cattle are alright, agents have been told to buy overage stock at lower prices. A few of the plants have attempted to drop their quotes by 3c/kg, but reports suggest that actual prices being paid remain at last week's levels.
Significant increases in quotes from Donegal Meats over the past few weeks puts it at the top of the pile for most categories of stock. Its prices for the O, O+, R and U-grade steers are 358c/kg, 368c/kg, 375c/kg and 383c/kg respectively. Heifers are 3c/kg more than the steers in each grade. Bulls are at 347c/kg for the Os, 361c/kg for the O+ grades, 370c/kg for the Rs with the Us at 378c/kg. The minimum weight for cull cows has been dropped from 320kg to 280kg. U-grade cows are making 339c/kg, the Rs are at 333c/kg, O+ at 328c/kg, O grades are making 322c/kg and the P grade is at 311c/kg.
O and R-grade cows made 322c/kg and 330c/kg respectively in the northeast last week but appear to have this week fallen back to 317c/kg and 324c/kg, which are still good prices. In the southeast, a flat price of 314c/kg was paid for P+ and O-grade cows. Elsewhere, good R grades made 317-322c-kg in the past week, O grades were at 302-314c/kg and Ps were at 290-308c/kg.
Base quotes for steers are generally in the 360-364c/kg range for younger animals, while older bullocks are closer to 355-360c/kg. Some plants are throwing out the line that they are not interested in very heavy stock. Quite a few farmers are trying to secure flat deals off the grid, with 370-375c/kg being secured for good-quality stock.
Heifer quotes range from 360-370c/kg but prices are closer to 365-375c/kg. There are reports of up to an additional 5c/kg being secured as a base price for bigger lots of cattle but the figures mentioned above are more the norm.
There is good demand for young bulls at the moment. Quotes for U-grade bulls range from a low of 361c/kg in Moyvalley up to the 370-378c/kg level that is on offer from most of the other plants. The R grades range from 364-370c/kg, while the O grades are in the 347-350c/kg bracket. Shop around if you have young bulls to sell as there are noticeable differences between plants on prices.
If you are selling on the grid, it is vital that you watch out for cattle getting over fat, especially heifers. There is no point adding flesh at a cost and then incurring a needless penalty when they are slaughtered.
IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said that despite what factory agents were saying, cattle supplies remain tight, with strong market demand, and that plants were paying a base of up to 365c/kg for the steers and 375c/kg for heifers.