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Independent.ie

Thursday 20 September 2018

Improved beef prices across the board despite high kill figure

Cattle arriving to Carrick onh Suir Mart. Picture: Pat Moore
Cattle arriving to Carrick onh Suir Mart. Picture: Pat Moore
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

I'm a big Star Trek fan. The classic TV show had Captain Kirk and Mr Spock of the Starship Enterprise involved every week in some strange yet interesting adventure in some far flung corner of the galaxy.

Strange and interesting is a description that could also apply to the current riddle of the rising cattle prices.

As we all now know the handbrake that traditionally saw cattle prices stagnate at kill figures above 30,000 was well and truly disengaged last November as both prices and numbers rose in unison.

Once Christmas had passed, factory bosses wrested control of the trade back from suppliers and prices fell back by between 20-30c/kg.

Yesterday, however, indications were beginning to emerge that despite continuing high kills - just over 35,000 last week - the prices pendulum has again begun to swing back in favour of the farmer.

IFA beef chairman Angus Woods was reporting that some of his members were securing base prices of €3.95/kg for bullocks and €4.05/kg for heifers, both of which would be 5c/kg stronger than last week.

I had reports that bullocks were steady at €3.90 but that heifers had indeed moved to €4.05/kg in places.

Either way, the news from the frontline on bullock and heifer prices appears good.

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The situation in relation to cull cows and bulls is that prices have started the week similar to where they closed on Friday, but with indications that factories are toying with the idea of squeezing bull prices.

Yesterday's price for U grade bulls ranged from €3.95-4.00/kg with reports from some agents that €4.00/kg "would be hard got".

Prices for R grade bulls also see that 5c/kg less being factored in as his price moves in the range €3.85-3.90/kg. Although it's far from clear if that lower R grade price will stick.

Also lower yesterday was the price of O grade bulls with prices reported as being in the €3.70-3.75/kg region.

That price of €3.70/kg would be some 0.15c/kg below quotes for R grades and appears to support reports that some agents were attempting to open a more significant gap than the usual 10c/kg that is between R and O grades. This development would be directly targeted at those finishers who specialise in Friesian/dairy type stock.

U grade cull cows continue on €3.80/kg, R grades at €3.50-3.60/kg, O grades steady at €3.40/kg and the various grades of P's ranging from €3.30 back to around the €3.00/kg mark.

In short, the trade is steady to improved across the board despite factories attempting to make the men with the bulls sweat.


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