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Finishers play tough as factories pull prices

Beef finishers are successfully holding out against the moves by the processors to drop prices.

Okay, there is evidence of a slight pull this week, but this move is viewed by finishers as a concerted attempt by the factories to cut prices and farmers have reacted accordingly.

Quotes for R grade steers are generally between 350-358c/kg with the heifers at a range of 355-364c/kg.

The smaller independent operators appear to be at the higher end of the quotes, with the big three notably towards the lower end. I don't expect any of you to fall off your chair with surprise at that fact. Prices in Donegal seem to have slipped into those ranges for both steers and heifers this week as well.

Even though most of the farmers are bargaining hard, there is no great pressure on the factories with the kill remaining up around the 30,000hd mark. Last week's figure was 29,937 slaughtered, which was only 500 animals down from the corresponding week last year. On a year-to-date basis, supplies are running more than 5pc lower than the same period last year.

Still, they need somewhere close to the 30,000 weekly and this helps the finishers to sell hard and keep the prices at realistic levels. The present price levels are an absolute must when all costs are taken into account and anything below a base of 350c/kg is getting into the waste of time or busy fool category.

Quotes and prices for the U grade bulls range from 358-370c/kg. The Rs are at anything between 350-364c/kg while the O grades are generally at 342-345c/kg. Commenting on the trade, the IFA's Michael Doran said that prime cattle supplies remain very tight. He added that the Department of Agriculture recorded base price for steers for the week before last was 364c/kg, with the heifers at 371c/kg. This proved that the factories were willing to pay significantly above the quoted figures to get stock.

Heavy O and R grade cows sold last week made 322c/kg and 330c/kg respectively. Top quotes today are a little less than this with 325c/kg the highest quote I could find for good cows. Generally the P+3 cows are hovering between 274-300c/kg. Quotes for the O grades range from 286-308c/kg. O+ cows over 320kg are making 311c/kg in Donegal. The better cows are being quoted at anything from 300-325c/kg depending on the weight, with a few actual prices exceeding those levels.

The trade in Britain remained largely unchanged over the past week, according to Bord Bia. Demand for round cuts, silversides and knuckles continue to seasonally adjust to steak cuts and VLs (visible lean).

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have firmed slightly with GB R4L grade steers averaging at Stg305.7p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 365c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended June 11.

In France, Irish steer hinds remain unchanged at €5.47/kg, with German cow hinds also unchanged at €4.63/kg. R3 young bulls in Germany are averaging €3.44/kg, while O3 cow prices fell by 4/c to €2.96/kg. In Italy, R3 young bulls are making €3.62/kg, while O3 cow prices are making €2.82/kg.

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