Young bull beef supplies surge ahead
Young bull supplies to the factories are surging as the change over by producers from steer production continues to forge ahead.
Supplies of young bulls reached 196,897 head in 2017, which was the second highest ever, despite a fall back in the significant premium prices once commanded over steers.
Greater feed efficiency achieved from bull production has influenced the incentive for farmers to change from steer production on many of the specialist suckler-to-beef farms over the past two decades.
However, while some of the added benefit has been eroded by the reversal in the premium on the base price, the earlier finishing and good classification for continentals as bull beef has partly offset the difference.
The ICSA's Eddie Punch said bull beef remained at a stable and sustainable rate for 2017.
"It is still very sustainable going forwards this year. In 2017, the demand for beef was well increased compared to previous years and still lower than the year where it was a problem," he said, adding young bull beef was key to maintaining the suckler herd.
He said when prices previously collapsed, some farmers moved towards feeding Herefords off the dairy herd, however, they are now heading towards a "glut".
Young bull beef production reached an all-time peak of 207,338 head in 2012. The premium of up to 10c/kg being paid for young bulls over the steer base price, during the mid years of the last decade has been steadily reversed to a deficit of 5-15c/kg in recent years.
In 2014, the annual average price for R3 young bulls was 354.3c/kg while the same grade steer was paid 370c/kg (plus VAT).
The average for 2017 was 378c/kg compared to 383c/kg (plus VAT) in favour of the steers.
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