Farm Ireland

Monday 23 April 2018

Abundant supplies pile pressure on plain stock

The weight issue for young bulls does seem to have eased.
The weight issue for young bulls does seem to have eased.

Joe Healy

Excess weight in the forwards proved to be more of a negative than a positive for the Toulouse team playing Munster in Thomond Park last Saturday and while carcase weights have been a huge problem area for finishers selling young bulls this year, the weight issue does seem to have eased.

More and more farmers are saying that a number of plants have moved up from the 420kgs mark with quite a few getting bulls killed up to 450-460kg before any weight cuts are implemented. Sellers are also negotiating a slight increase in prices with up to 370c/kg being got for U grades in more than one factory. In general, the quotes for the Us are at 360c/kg with the Rs at 350c/kg, but a mix of both could command 360c/kg flat. The O grades vary from 300-330c/kg.

Base quotes for steers run from 385-395c/kg with prices usually between 390-395c/kg. The heifers are also being quoted for at 385-395c/kg and again very few are bought below the 390c/kg with finishers normally securing the 395c/kg.

Farmers are finding it difficult, however, to get finished cattle from plainer breeds killed despite those cattle being Quality Assured. Factories are undoubtedly using the large numbers being offered for slaughter to pick and choose what they want. Last week's estimated kill of 32,667 was almost 8,000hd or over 30pc ahead of the corresponding kill of 24,594hd last year.

The best price I heard for cull cows was 335c/kg flat for a mix of R and U grades with 335c/kg paid for U grades in another plant. The Rs are generally making from 310-330c/kg with the Os ranging from 280-300c/kg.

An Bord Bia reported that the beef trade remained similar to recent weeks as an abundance of supply continues to maintain pressure on prices.

Base price

Prices quoted by export meat plants were generally at the same level as the previous week. The majority of steers were purchased at a base price of between €3.90-3.95/kg on the Quality Payment System. Heifers traded at a base price of between €3.95-4.00/kg.

Also Read

These prices exclude the €0.12/kg bonus which is payable on in-spec QA animals. Prices paid for O grade cull cows were mostly between €2.85-3.00/kg.

Cumulative supplies for the year to-date are running at more than 41,000 hd or 11pc above the figures for the corresponding period last year. Most notably, the number of heifers slaughtered for the year to-date has increased by 15pc while steer and cow supplies have risen by 11pc and 13pc respectively.

In Britain, finished cattle prices reported by AHDB declined by 3p/kg on average for the week ending March 29, to stg 369.6 pence/kg dw (equivalent to 466c/kg incl VAT). On the French market, the beef trade was reported as stable last week.

Meanwhile, the results of the December 2013 UK livestock survey released by Defra show a downward trend in UK cattle numbers.

This decline shows little sign of easing in the short term given a significant fall in the number of cattle aged less than one year old.

The breeding herd has seen a further overall decline, but contrasting trends were evident across the beef and dairy breeding herds. A 3pc drop in the beef breeding herd was recorded, while the dairy herd showed an increase of 1.7pc. Cull cow numbers showed a 2pc increase to reach 755,000 head. This was driven by an increase in both dairy and beef cull cows.

A 12pc rise was recorded in male cattle aged greater than 2 years. This is set to help the recovery in UK beef supplies in 2014. Similarly, a rise of over 1pc was recorded for cattle between one and two years.

Both female and male calf numbers showed declines which points to a downward pressure on supply from the second half of 2015. Female calves were down by over 3pc while male calves were 5pc lower.

Indo Farming