Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 18 January 2018

Beef Prices: Factories dig in on prices

Pic Steve Humphreys
Pic Steve Humphreys
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

I remember a time when the men with cattle in sheds were guaranteed a better price during the winter months.

The reason was the seasonality of the kill with autumn kill numbers surging, and the winter months requiring the EU to pay a slaughter subsidy to farmers to make the job of feeding cattle in sheds more viable.

The business evolved, farmers built more sheds and the national kill became more even, with numbers spreading relatively smoothly across the 12 months of the year.

This “continuity of supply” — deemed by both factories and supermarkets as vital for the maintenance of contracts — is to a large degree now killing the viability of winter fattening for farmers.

And continuity of supply has seen the national kill return to an average of 32,000-34,000 head per week, with the result that last week’s top price for bullocks, €3.85/kg, will be a lot harder to get this week.

It’s the same for heifers. I was told €3.95/kg is “possible, but not likely” as factories dig in at €3.90/kg. Prices are running at €3.75-3.80/kg for bullocks, with heifers now on €3.90/kg.

The only good news is that both cows and young bulls continue to remain stable. Prices are as follows; bulls under i6 months are on a base of €3.80/kg, while those from 16 to 24 months continue on flat prices of €3.90- 3.85 for Us, €3.80-3.75 for Rs, with Os on €3.70-3.65/ kg.

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Cow prices see Rs on €3.40-3.45/kg, with Os €3.20- 3.25/kg. Some of the better P+3s are coming in at €3.20/kg, with the remainder on €2.90-3.05/ kg.

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