Rain playing into factories' hands as the numbers flow
You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to see what's afoot in the cattle business at present.
Last week's bad weather meant that ground conditions that were already poor deteriorated further, to the point that even in the east some cattle were housed.
Those that were not housed probably caused their owners to lose sleep. Heavy cattle on soft ground are a real "no no".
The options you have depend on how close to being finished those cattle are.
While the rain continued to fall, grass beef men wrestled with the problem of what to do, the factories waited patiently for their phones to ring.
Judging by quotes yesterday morning those phones did ring - a lot.
Factory bosses may have been at worst hoping not to have to pay any more than they did in the majority of cases last week, ie €3.80/kg for bullocks and €3.90/kg for heifers.
And some factories were coming out with quotes as low as €3.70/kg and €3.80/kg respectively for bullocks and heifers.
Another aspect of the factories' plan appears to be the targeting of those with Hereford and Angus stock. There are reports that even where a factory was quoting €3.80/kg for bullocks, their quote for Angus or Hereford was 5c/kg less.
However, it is the reputation of Irish Angus and Hereford beef that has done more to make Irish beef in general both recognisable and desirable on the British and European market than anything else.
It is not all bad news on prices, however, as young bulls and cull cows remains stable.
Under-16-month bulls continue on a base of €3.80/kg while 16-24-month stock continue to see Us on €3.90/kg, with €4.00/kg still possible in some cases.
Rs are on €3.80-3.85/kg while Os are €3.70-3.75/kg.
The cull cow continues to see Rs in the €3.40-3.50/kg bracket, with Os on €3.25-3.40/kg while Ps are being priced at €3.15-3.30/kg.
And what of the outlook? The numbers continue to come. Even the week of the Ploughing saw no let-up with 36,152 animals going through the system.
The cattle men can see the factories' plan: cash in on the extra numbers for as long as they and the weather are in your favour.
That said, you don't want to put the winter finisher off completely, so here and there they whisper a word about future price improvements.
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