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Wednesday 16 January 2019

Kill numbers help factories keep prices on the floor

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Factory prices for steers and heifers yet again remained static yesterday at bases of €3.75/kg and €3.85/kg respectively, and with last week’s kill settling at 40,090 you can see why.

The only half-good news is that cow prices seem to have steadied. R grade cows were being quoted at around the €3.00/kg mark with O grades €2.60-2.80/kg.

Some of the better P-grades continue to make up around €2.50-2.60/kg but lesser ones are slipping below €2.40/kg.

Bull prices appear to have steadied with U grades remaining on €3.80-3.85/kg and Rs at €3.70-3.75/kg, while O grades are reported to be €3.50-3.60/kg — but where a majority are of dairy extraction that price might not hold.

So the advice is if you’ve got Friesian bulls to kill, get the specifics before the factory takes them.

And that’s the rub. Factories are not keen on bulls.

I’ve heard numerous stories of men with sheds of bulls ready to sell being told their local factory has no market for them. Or put another way, factories have enough cull cows to fill their manufacturing beef contracts. 

I heard one story of a finisher with a large number mixed-grading bulls pushing up on age discovering that not only did his local plant not want them, nobody else appeared to want them either.

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That was until he put out the story that he would let the whole lot off to the first man to offer him €3.50/kg flat. That got the factories’ attention.

His reply to their query on when he could have them ready was, “I thought you said you were full.” He had proved his point. I don’t believe he sold, however.

The situation in relation to the trade from the factories’ point of view is that they do not have to go searching for their weekly kill quota because the numbers keep coming. And that is not their fault.

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