While the hunger for beef cattle may not be at the same level of the Kilkenny hurlers last Sunday, there does seem to be a little more bite to the trade this week as factory agents are still being urged to do whatever is necessary to secure stock.
Last week's estimated kill of 31,169 animals was more than 2,000hd behind the same week last year.
Base quotes on the grid for steers are in the 350-355c/kg range, with 355-360c/kg being paid. Heifers are being quoted at 355-360c/kg, with actual prices of 360-370c/kg commonplace. Farmers accepting what they are quoted are losing out on a significant amount of money compared to what the factories are willing to pay if they are pushed. There is a €45 difference between 355c/kg and 370c/kg on a 300kg carcass.
Other positives for the beef trade include the move by Dunbia last week to begin killing cattle in Ennis, with the plan to kill three days a week there.
More significant is that Slaney Meats is toying with the idea of examining its customers' and markets' reaction to the raising of the age limit for the quality assured bonus payment to 36 months of age. Slaney hopes to begin a trial on this very soon and if it works it will be hugely significant.
Young bull prices are at 370-380c/kg for the U grades, with the Rs at 358-370c/kg and Os at 342-350c/kg. Quotes are a bit less than this.
Moyvalley Meats continues to pay 350c/kg for heavy U-grade cows over 400kg and 336c/kg for the Rs. The general run for P+ cows is 298-308c/kg and Os at 300-319c/kg with the top cows at 314-336c/kg depending on where you go.
Trade for cattle was broadly similar to the previous week, according to Bord Bia, although some increase in cow quotes was evident as demand for manufacturing beef remained firm, reflecting relatively tight cow supplies in Ireland and Britain.
Quotes for R-grade steers under the Quality Payment System were unchanged at €3.50-3.55/kg. Heifer quotes increased slightly to €3.60-3.65/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec quality assured stock. O-grade cows typically made €3-3.11/kg.
On a year-to-date basis, cattle supplies are running 5pc lower than the same period last year.
In Britain, trade was firm and prices across all cuts were maintained. Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have have firmed further, with GB R4L grade steers averaging stg325.3p/kg dw (equivalent to 388c/kg including VAT dw) for the week ended August 27.
On the Continent, demand has started to ease for hindquarter product as the holiday season comes to a close across the key markets.