Martin Coughlan: Big kill figure keeps prices on the floor


Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Factory prices remain unchanged for the majority of farmers and feeders, with heifers on a €3.85/kg base and bullocks on €3.75/kg.

Prices for cull cows were also unchanged, with Rs averaging €3.00/kg, Os on €2.80-2.85/kg and your better P floating around €2.60-2.70/kg.

With bulls, Us continue on €3.50-3.60/kg with Rs making €3.40-3.50/kg and O grades back to €3.20-3.30/kg, with Friesians possibly less.

The kill for last week was 35,411, up 111 on the previous week - hence the lack of movement on price.

The only positivity that I heard yesterday came from ICMSA's livestock chairman Des Morrison, who commented on the importance of having independent slaughter plants in the system.

"We note that some of the smaller independent factories seem to be offering better prices for certain types of cows and bulls, while the 'Big Three' are concentrating on 'in-spec' cattle," he said.

"This is exactly the kind of situation that shows why we need an independent group of factories and beef processors."

He is right. The first signs of improvement in beef price are generally reflected in what these plants are willing to pay.

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Mind you, when the prices do lift, how often will those getting that extra few cents guard that knowledge with their lives?

It's a sad reality that the beef farming community does not share beneficial information easily among its own.

Returning to bulls, I have had several factory agents express concern that some who continue to feed bulls into very big weights believe weight limits don't actually apply.

Meanwhile, TD Denis Naughten continues to question the accuracy of factory grading machines.

Last week in reply to his probing, Minister Andrew Doyle told the Dail that in relation to grading there were an average of "20 inspections per factory per year, which significantly exceeds the legal minimum requirement of eight".

Mr Naughten replied that daily inspections are carried out in the UK and claimed that "a farmer could lose out on €139.60/hd" should the machine not be functioning correctly.

My question is how did the EU manage to convince itself that just eight inspections per factory per year were sufficient for the maintenance of accuracy in such a complex operational system?

Indo Farming

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