Little seasonal cheer as Brexit and kill numbers dampen prices
There hasn't been too much in the line of festive cheer surrounding beef prices over the last month.
The traditional Christmas price surge in early December didn't materialise mainly due to the large numbers of cattle available for slaughter and the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
This time of year always marks the mid-way point in the Irish winter finishing period. The resilience of beef finishers is witnessed by the fact that most sheds have been filled again this year.
Historically, support for the beef finishing sector has been poor, with seemingly little systemic changes from the time of the last beef crisis. If corrective action isn't taken we will end up down the route of other European countries, where the beef sector only handles the by-products from the expanded dairy herd.
No one could argue that this will improve our beef exports prospects. My New Year's wish is that measures can be implemented to halt the decline in our suckler beef herd.
Improved payments for carcass quality - and finally including meat eating quality characteristics in our payment system - would justly reward the breeding and feeding of all suckler bred, beef animals.
The very mild autumn weather led to challenges at housing for a lot of cattle.
Most farmers and vets will testify to the greater incidences of animal health challenges, particularly viral diseases. In a lot of cases, sheds of cattle are only getting into their 'thrive' now.