Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Bullock prices break through €4/kg barrier

Elphin Mart. Weanling Bull Sales. Faces at the Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Elphin Mart. Weanling Bull Sales. Faces at the Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

IN the week of the Aintree Grand National the big psychological fence of €4/kg for bullocks was jumped yesterday morning as numbers tightened. You won’t get your typical factory agent ringing you up and saying €4.00 is available.

He is more likely to quote something on the lines of €390-3.95/ kg so what you do at that point is up to you.

Types, ages and specs all play their part in negotiations and we are not yet at the point where factory bosses are willing to throw that particular rule book out the widow.

For heifers, the base price is now set at €4.05/kg, with €4.10 reported on a number of deals last week. Bull numbers are running behind last year’s levels by about 10pc and this helped push the price of 24-month old stock onto €4.00/kg for U grades, with Rs selling from €390-3.95/ kg and Os on €3.80—3.85/kg.

The IFA’s Angus Woods was even more positive, quoting me a flat price of €4.05/kg as having been paid for mixed loads of R and U grade 24 month bulls.

He also stated that a “top base prices of €4.15/€4.18” for heifers had been paid, but some of that price may have come in the form of free transport with no clipping charges Bulls under 16 months are on a base price from €3.90-3.95.

Cow prices — the barometer that many set the temperature of the Irish factory trade by — continue to rise with reports that R grades are now trading as high as €3.60/kg in some places, leaving your O grades at €3.35-3.40/kg, and the better P+3 grade up to €3.25/kg.

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While kill numbers remain strong, 31,716 for the week ending March 25, it is expected that further contraction in supplies will occur. While Bord Bia figures up to March 25 show the national kill at export plants of prime stock is running slightly below the figure for the same period in 2016 — 306,624 as opposed to 308,879 this year —the overall kill number, when you include cows, stock bulls etc, is up by 2.4pc.

Two figures stick out as being very relevant: the first is the increase in the number of cows killed up to March 25 this year versus 2016, 79,105 as opposed to 68,910 for the same period in 2016 an increase of 14.8pc.

The other figure is the 9.8pc fall in the number of bulls slaughtered, 56,480 against 62,615 for 2016.

The provisional figures supplied by Bord Bia on Northern Ireland slaughterings for the same period also show a marked increase 10.5pc in the number of cull cows slaughtered at export plants north of the border.

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