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Cull cows again equal price paid for prime beef at factories

Base prices this week appear to be staying stable despite rumours that there may be more pain to come

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Cattle at Roscommon mart. Photo: Brian Farrell

Cattle at Roscommon mart. Photo: Brian Farrell

Latest factory prices

Latest factory prices

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Cattle at Roscommon mart. Photo: Brian Farrell

I’m a soccer fan. That means I watched most of the Women’s Euros over the last month. Initially, I was sceptical — not anymore. Once you got to the quarter-final stage the level of technique, skill and stamina demonstrated was very impressive.

In Sunday’s final, we saw six yellow cards brandished as neither Germany nor England gave any quarter. And then an English player with a very Irish-sounding surname scored the winner — Chloe Kelly. She twirled her jersey over her head in celebration; a photo that showed her sheer joy.

Is there any correlation between football and current factory prices for cattle? Not really, except that from where we were on price, current offerings are in no way impressive; plus, you won’t see any Irish beef farmers taking off their shirts in celebration at where factories have managed to push the trade.

The best that can be said is that base prices this week appear to be staying stable despite rumours that there may be more pain to come. This stability sees bullocks on bases of €4.80-4.85/kg with heifers on €4.90-4.95/kg. Angus cattle are reported to be also stable at €5.00/kg although their breed bonus has fallen over the last month to between 15-20c/kg.

Although bases of €4.80-4.90/kg have been touted as where the trade is at for nearly three weeks by agents, it was only last week that the processors appear to have finished killing stock bought well in advance and at higher prices.

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Latest factory prices

Latest factory prices

Latest factory prices

If there is any positivity to be had, it is that cull cow and young bull prices have remained largely unchanged over the last two to three weeks. This sees a continuation of O grade cows being priced at €4.40-4.60/kg and P grades €4.30-4.40/kg. On the young bull side, those under 24 months continue to attract bids of €4.80-4.90/kg for Rs, with U grades €4.90-5.00/kg. However, I have been told that those with a number of heavy bulls have been bid €5.00/kg flat by some plants anxious to bulk-buy manufacturing beef quickly.

Those dealing directly with the factories have seen their prices slashed since mid-June, with the trade for heavy stock at the marts also affected.

Over the last two weeks the mart trade for heavy cull cows has recovered quite spectacularly. Last week, cull cows again equalled the price being paid for prime beef.

The standout example came in Carnew where a 717kg Charolais heifer made €2.72/kg while in the next breath an 860kg Charolais cull cow also clicked €2.72/kg.

“Factories appear to have no end for the use they can make of cull cows,” noted Robert de Vere Hunt of Cashel mart.

While factory quotes are steady, the continuing high weekly kills — 33,742 for the week ending July 24 — have to be a concern.

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