Reality bites as January blues grip beef trade
A cattleman I know used the phrase "blue January" to describe the trade at his local mart.
It is also a phrase that could be used to describe how the factory trade has performed since we turned into the New Year.
Quotes this week are in the main around €3.95/kg for bullocks and €4.05/kg for heifers.
That's 15-20c/kg ahead of where they were this time last year. It's a lot of money, €55-74/hd on a 370kg carcase, but the reality is winter finishers got skinned alive for the first three months of last winter with many carrying feed bills forward for much of 2017.
And the optimism that prevailed in December when prices pushed upwards to €4.10-€4.20/kg for bullocks and heifers has now evaporated.
There are also reports of some factory agents attempting to talk prices back another 5c/kg to €3.90/kg for bullocks and heifers €4.00/kg.
One certainty is that at some stage this winter's meal bills will arrive.
This is when the whole set up inside the farm gate becomes a pressure cooker if factory prices aren't sufficient to cover costs.