Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

Bigger numbers weakens prices


Joe Healy

If only the beef factories could be penalised for pulling down prices the way Donncha O'Callaghan was for pulling down the Italian maul on Sunday.

And while the Irish rugby players tactics proved extremely successful, the efforts by the processors are very negative for beef finishers who are replacing those animals from a very dear market. This, coupled with high meal costs (which incidentally has nothing to do with the chance of meeting Rihanna in a field of barley), is threatening to leave their margins very bare (no pun intended).

Without a doubt, the plants see the next two or three weeks as their only opportunity to lower prices if numbers of stock tighten significantly this back-end. The wind is behind them in this respect with last week's kill at 35,700hd, which is around 1,400 up on the same week last year.

Quotes for steers are at best holding their own and are at worst down by 3c/kg. It is a similar story with the heifers. Base quotes for the steers generally range from 347-350c/kg, with 350-352c/kg buying quite a lot at this stage. Some of the plants not sticking to the grid are quoting 350c/kg for the Rs, with 339c/kg for the O grades and 355c/kg for the Us. Seasoned sellers are getting another 3c/kg on top of those figures.

Base quotes for the heifers are running from 355-360c/kg. Some finishers of good-quality young heifers have secured 370-375c/kg, which has occurred in more than one plant as there seems to be keen demand for those types at the moment.

Prices up in Donegal have remained at last week's levels, which leaves the U-grade in-spec steers at 372c/kg, Rs at 364c/kg, O+ grades at 355c/kg and the Os at 339c/kg. The heifers are making 3c/kg more. Out-of-spec cattle are 6c/kg less in each grade.

U and R-grade young bulls have made up to 375c/kg flat for a mix. Quotes for the Us are at 365-370c/kg, with 350-361c/kg being quoted for the Rs. O-grade bulls are at 336-350c/kg.

IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said that with as much as a 10c/kg variation in prices between plants, farmers need to shop around and bargain hard in order to ensure that they are maximising the value of their stock.

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Heavy U-grade cows are making up to 336c/kg. Heavy Rs are at 314-330c/kg. O-grade cows are at 298-314c/kg depending on carcass weight, while P+ cows are at 280-302c/kg.

Trade for cattle across all categories eased slightly during the week, according to Bord Bia, as supplies have begun to seasonally increase, albeit still below last year's levels.

Quotes for R-grade steers under the Quality Payment System were at €3.47-3.52/kg. Heifer quotes were in the region of €3.53-3.60/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock. O-grade cows were at €2.97-3.08/kg.

On a year-to-date basis, cattle supplies are running 5pc lower than the same period last year.

In the UK, trade remains firm, reflecting ongoing tight supplies. Cattle prices from the AHDB have firmed further, with GB R4L steers averaging Stg336.1p/kg deadweight (equivalent to €4.07/kg dw) for the week ended September 24.

Indo Farming