Over the last two months base prices for bullocks and heifers have climbed, plateaued and climbed again.
Two weeks ago the expectation was that prices would move from €3.70-€3.75/kg for bullocks and heifers respectively to €3.75 and €3.80/kg. They did, but only briefly.
Last week saw factories hold at €3.70 and €3.75/kg, with some starting the conversation at €3.65/kg and €3.70/kg. At that point they appeared to be digging in their heels.
Yet, over the weekend it became apparent demand from southern plants in particular had stabilised prices at €3.70-3.75/kg.
On the bull side, quotes for U grades are on €3.70/kg, with Rs on €3.60/kg and better O grades at €3.50/kg - depending on overall cover.
Looking at the cull cows, R grades appear to be also holding at €3.20-3.30/kg, with upwards of €3.15/kg given for numbers of O grades. The better Ps are varying from €2.90-3.00/kg, although professional feeders are reported to be receiving an additional 5-10c/kg premium, depending on numbers.
The last few weeks of April this year saw bullocks and heifers struggle to hold a base price of €3.40-3.45/kg, with P grade cows back around the €2.30-2.40/kg mark as the industry struggled with the fallout from Covid-19. Today those same bullocks and heifers are up 30-35c/kg yet P grade cows are stronger by 60c/kg.
At the height of the lockdown (March 30 to May 24) the total number of bullocks, heifers, young bulls and cull cows slaughtered at export plants was 180,183. The same eight-week period in 2019 saw 252,076 processed, with the figure for 2018 being 250,519.
Averaging those 2018 and 2019 figures and subtracting that 180,183 from your answer, you get 71,114. That figure represents the number of possibly fit cattle that were not slaughtered due to the Covid lockdown. Looking at the bigger picture, the total kill for 2020 to the middle of this month is 949,930, compared to 995,670 for the same period in 2019 (-45,740). And 35,302 cattle went through the processors in the week ending July 19, back 429 on the previous week and 1,795 less than the week before that.