Attempted downward pressure by the processors over the past 2-3 weeks has been rejected at the farm gate as farmers refused to entertain a base price below 330c/kg for steers, which made plants realise there was not much point pursuing that avenue.
This appears to be the figure most factories are working off this week, whether it is Kepak, Dawn, AIBP, Moyvalley, Kildare, Slaney, Dunbia, Duleek or Liffey.
The R price for in-spec steers going into Donegal Meats is at 342c/kg, with the Us at 350c/kg. From what I hear, Donegal Meats has competition within their own county from AIBP Clones at the moment. Its heifer prices are running at 3c/kg over the bullocks.
Elsewhere, most of the rest are quoting 336c/kg of a base for the heifers. Kepak Clonee is working off a base of 340c/kg and reports of 345c/kg being offered by some of the plants seem to be pretty well founded.
A flat 342c/kg for a mix of under and overage, mainly R-grade, heifers was paid in the west, while R-grade overage steers sold for a flat 336c/kg.
The general run for U-grade young bulls ranged from 336c/kg to 345c/kg, with the Rs at 330-336c/kg. The Os made 319-322c/kg. Angus bulls killed in the south last week made 358c/kg, 345c/kg and 330c/kg including the bonus for the U, R and O grades respectively.
IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said cattle supplies showed signs of tightening this week and farmers need to ensure that they maximise the price potential of their cattle if they are selling.
The cow trade continues very strong with reports suggesting that as high as 322c/kg was paid for top-quality stock towards the north-east last week. Incidentally, when I rang the factory mentioned for quotes in this article, it was one of the lowest quotes I got. Other plants were willing to pay 308-314c/kg for good, heavy R grades, while some tried and succeeded in buying similar Rs at as low as 280c/kg. O and P+3 grades are being quoted for anything from 265c/kg upwards.
The cattle trade showed little change over the past week, according to An Bord Bia, as slower market demand following post-Christmas restocking continues to be evident. However, finished cattle supplies through export meat plants in Ireland remain lower than the same time last year.
Quotes for R-grade steers this week under the Quality Payment System were generally 330-336 c/kg. Heifer prices showed base quotes of 336-342 c/kg. These prices exclude the six cent on in-spec Quality Assured stock.
The cow trade remains strong, reflecting the ongoing manufacturing demand across markets as O-grade cows typically sold for 280-291c/kg.
In the UK, trade is reported to be slow, with current supplies adequate to meet demand levels. Trade for round and steak remained slow, while a good forequarter trade was reported.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have eased on previous weeks, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg289p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 358c/kg including VAT dw) for the week ended January 29.
On the Continent, a mixed trade was reported, with markets such as Italy claiming a slow trade, while good international demand is boosting prices in markets such as Germany. The strongest trade continues to be evident for forequarter cuts. In Germany, the R3 young bull price made €3.86 and the O3 cow price €2.58/kg. In France, Irish steer hinds made around €5.05/kg.