Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Beef Prices: Factories holding the line on beef price cuts

Cattle grazing at Ballyloughan Castle in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow. Photo: Roger Jones
Cattle grazing at Ballyloughan Castle in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow. Photo: Roger Jones

Marin Coughlan

FACTORY bosses continue to hold the line that beef prices will have to be further reduced to maintain their profit margins.

To this end some plants were quoting as low as €4.00/ kg for bullocks and €4.10/ kg for heifer’s yesterday morning.

What’s happening on the ground, however appears to be far from as simple as the factories stating “we want cat­tle for less” and then getting them.

Bullocks last week moved in the range of €4.05-4.10/kg with heifers €4.15-4.20/kg, with bulls selling from €4.10/ kg for Us back to €3.90-3.80/ kg for Os, while Rs on €4.00/ kg.

Cull cows had a general range of €3.60/kg for Rs, with Os on €3.40/kg, better P grades were making €3.30, while lesser Ps sold in the €3.10-3.00/kg range.

For the start of this week, the majority of those prices are holding. Factories ap­peared to be trying to flush out the first of the grass cattle and appear to have had some success.

While the majority of grass finishing farms will do as they always have done — begin their first draws in August and will continue to run on with stock coming off of the land until late November —there are other farms who planned differently this year and it is those farms that the factories are currently targeting.

With extra cattle forecast to be in the system for 2017, some the more enterprising of farms decided to feed their stock far earlier on grass than would be normal.

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The very early spring com­bined with the recent weather that has seen exceptional grass growth — along with the additional thrive from feeding — has delivered excellent results.

It is these “early cattle” that the factories are currently targeting.

The majority of last week’s prices are holding for the first days of this week, but where numbers are coming the bullock may find it hard to get above €4.05/kg and the heifer €4.15/kg.

The cull cow too seems to have stabilised at the above prices although one agent did quote me 10c/kg less.

The only positive that can be taken at this point is no one I have spoken to believes this to be the start of a pro­longed price slide.

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