Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Factories' own stock and wet hits prices

Pictured at the annual Tractor run at Lyre, Clonakilty Co Cork were local men Michael McCarthy, Peter and Christopher O'Neill and Daniel O Regan. Picture Denis Boyle
Pictured at the annual Tractor run at Lyre, Clonakilty Co Cork were local men Michael McCarthy, Peter and Christopher O'Neill and Daniel O Regan. Picture Denis Boyle

Joe Healy

The good news is that cull cows, which are generally seen as a barometer of the markets, have remained solid.

However, the steer, heifer and - to a lesser extent - the young bulls have all seen the processors exert downward pressure on their prices. Word is that they are using some of their own feedlot cattle and the bad weather to drive down quotes and price.

Disappointing, definitely, but not really surprising. Farmers could do with some improvement to the weather as poaching by heavy stock is the biggest factor on a lot of farms at the moment.

Most plants are currently quoting €4.10/kg for the steers, with a range from €4.05-4.15/kg. In the main, the most are being sold at a base of between €4.10-4.15/kg. A definite 5c/kg slip sees a general quote of €4.20/kg for heifers, and a base of €4.20-4.25/kg being offered for most of them.

Some of the bulls being killed early this week were bought at €4.20/kg for mixes, but this is more difficult to achieve today. The U grades are making from €4.15-4.20/kg, with the Rs at anything from €4.00-4.15/kg.

Prices for the Os are around €3.90-3.95/kg, with O grades in the south struggling to pass the €3.85/kg mark. As alluded to earlier, the cull cows are firm with prices ranging from €3.50-4.00, depending on the type of cow in question.

The P and O grades vary from €3.50-3.70/kg, with the better quality heavy continentals making from €3.75-4.00/kg.

The estimated kill figure for last week stood at 28,800hd, which is some 800hd down on the corresponding week last year.

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IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns reminded factories of Teagasc figures showing a price of over €4.30/kg being required to get a small margin this year.

He said that the price cutting would compound seasonality and damage the sector's ability to service the year round retail trade.

He added that AIMS data for April shows cattle numbers between 12 and 36 months of age down a massive 180,000 head compared to this time last year.

Over 91,000hd have been live exported so far this year. Calf exports are back only 10,000hd on last year, at just over 61,000.

Good supplies from Ireland have been partly to blame for the heavy slide in British beef prices in 2015 - along with a strong Pound Sterling and plenty of numbers around Britain.

In January and February, Irish beef imports - which make up more than 70pc of beef shipments coming into Britain- were 12pc higher at 28,783t.

In Britain, R4L grade steers averaged 496c/kg.

Cumulative supplies here for the year to date are down around 3pc on 2014, at around 549,000 head.


Little change has been reported from France. The R3 young bull price was at €3.84/kg and the O3 cow price was steady at €3.40/kg

In Italy, the trade continues to remain slow on the back of sluggish demand with an increase in competition also reported. The R3 young bull price was steady at €4.03/kg, while the O3 cow price was up 3c to €2.90/kg.

Elsewhere, Australian production is down, but not to the extent anticipated at the start of the year.

In the early part this year it was noted that, following two years of record throughput levels, throughput of adult cattle at Australian meat plants in 2015 was expected to decline 15pc to 7.8m head. But for the full year a decline in throughput of 11pc to 8.1m head is expected.

Cattle availability is expected to decline further next year, with a 9pc reduction expected, although this is forecast to ease by 2017.


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