Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Beef Trade: 'Factories appear committed to getting bullock price down to €4.00/kg'

Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

THE weekend saw a plethora of GAA matches, some good, some maybe not so good, but the one thing they all had in common was that there was no lack of commitment on any side.

The cattle trade at the moment is a bit like that, the factories appear to be committed to getting the price of bullocks on to the €4.00/kg mark and heifers to €4.10/k g.

On the other hand, a lot of the men with cattle seem to have adopted the football­ing stance of “if you want the ball, come and get it”.

Which is exactly what the factories did last week.

Farmers with stock to sell found that despite the hype around the factories want­ing bullocks back at a base of €4.00/kg, the man with in-spec stock could still strike a deal at €4.10/ kg.

In other words, while the game had been seen to swing away from the cattlemen over the last three to four weeks, with bullock prices of €4.15-4.20/ kg and heifers up to €4.30/ kg now only a memory, last week saw a real hardening of attitudes from those with stock to sell.

While that base of €4.10/ kg is probably the top of the price league for bull­ocks, the majority of deals last week were done not at €4.00/kg, as some might have you believe, but at €4.05/kg.

And that price of €4.05/kg was still the benchmark as this week got under way.

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It’s a similar story where heifers are concerned. Factories want them at less money, but €4.15/kg is about where we’re at with a shake of €4.20/kg still about, espe­cially if you’re on contract.

Bull numbers appear to be easing back slightly, which is helping to keep prices stable at bases from €4.00-4.05/kg for R grades, with Us a shade better at €4.10, while Os are back at €3.90/kg.

Cull cows

Cow prices last week also re­mained largely unchanged with Rs trading between €3.60-3.50/kg, while O grades vary depending on who is buying and why, from €3.45-3.30/kg, with Ps also seeing variations, from €3.10/kg up to €3.35/kg for the better P+ animal.

Those with lesser quality bullocks such as your P and O- grades, may find it easier to secure a higher base price of say €4.10/kg than possibly the man with better confor­mation stock to sell.

The reason is that they are generally going the same way as your cow, and off a base €4.10/kg the actu­al price paid will be in the region of €3.80-3.86/kg and maybe less on occasion.

Fundamentally from the factories’ point of view, it’s not really about quality, it’s all about price and num­bers.

And in the numbers game, the total kill for the year stands — as of June 19 — at 803,004, which is 4.8pc above the figure for 2016. The only figure that shows a decline on 2016 is that for the number of young bulls slaughtered, back about 1,333 so far this year, with just over 13,100 killed.

A point made to me by a retiring beef farmer recently was that it is a sad reflection on the farming community that after a lifetime of producing cattle, very few farmers can tell you with any conviction where their beef ends up.

Food for thought.

Online Editors

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