Farm Ireland

Sunday 20 January 2019

Beef prices rise 5c/kg as trade begins to find its feet

Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Lot Number 30A. Weight 670K. DOB 2/3/16. Breed CH. Price €1840
Photo Brian Farrell
Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Lot Number 30A. Weight 670K. DOB 2/3/16. Breed CH. Price €1840 Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

As the country gets back to normal after the big snow of 2018 the cattle trade is beginning to find its feet.

The IFA's Angus Woods reports that some plants were paying 5c/kg extra or above the general beef prices quote of €3.95 for bullocks, while other plants were reported as paying up to €4.10/kg for heifers. 

As yesterday wore on, reports began to emerge of factories becoming anxious and willing to pay €4.00/kg for bullocks as they pushed farmers with suitable stock to sell.

It is very tempting to buy into the theory that factories will this week spend at least a few days catching up with last week's missed kill.

However, another point is that those intent on selling have also had their days thrown out of sync. They may first decide to have yards fully thawed out and their feeding operations put fully back on track before turning their attention to drawing stock.

Moving to the bulls, young bulls under 16 months are reported as operating off a general grid base of €3.95/kg with €4.00 rumoured to have been paid where full loads of better stock were to hand.

Bulls up to 24 months are also steady with Us on €4.05/kg Rs at €3.95/kg and Os on €3.80-3.85/kg. That said full loads of heavy under-24 month Us and Rs are reported as being bought at €4.05/kg flat.

The cull trade remains steady as strong demand for manufacturing beef underpins the trade.

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R grade cows continue to make up to €3.70/kg with Os on €3.40-3.45/kg while P grades range from €3.00-3.30/kg.

Last week's kill figures fell to 25,750 due to plants forced to shut, however, it means the extra cattle are still in the system and may impact on prices.

The snow and the knock-on effect of the now delayed spring had one factory agent mulling over the long-term outlook yesterday morning.

He pointed out that some summer grazers had already bought forward stores for grass on the assumption that the spring might come early.

With that plan gone now out the window he wondered what they might do. Would it be possible that once they start feeding these animals a percentage of them might never see grass?

It has happened before that a late spring saw men decide to feed on stock originally destined for finishing on grass.

It is of course impossible to know with any accuracy how the coming months will play out but should this come to pass supply numbers in late and early May could be interesting.


Now for something totally different. On Thursday evening last, with blizzard conditions forecast, a cattle farmer left his home in north Roscommon and headed in the direction of his girlfriend's home in county Sligo. Arriving safely and with snow lying all about he stayed the night.

Next morning the roads were now impassable and panic set in after his cattle at home Roscommon missed their morning's feed.

But thanks to a local mart manager, he was supplied with a vehicle with greater road clearance.

The loved-up Roscommon man took to the roads for a second time and in due course, after various adventures and misadventures, arrived home. The moral of the story? Roscommon farmers will risk life and limb for two things; one is romance, the other is to get their cattle fed.

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