The beef processors were definitely not too busy reading Valentine cards sent to them by beef finishers yesterday. Despite the weekly kill of just over 30,000hd, running at an estimated 4,000 head below the corresponding week last year, the factories are proving as difficult to move as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The steer quote for most of the plants remains at 330c/kg with the heifers at 336c/kg. In-spec heifers going into Donegal Meats are making 361c/kg and 353c/kg for the Us and Rs respectively. The steers are 3c/kg less. Out-of spec animals are 11c/kg back from those prices. Having said that, I heard of up to 345c/kg being offered for a mix of mainly R with some U grade heifers and bullocks all overage. Supplies in the Northern half and the East of the country appear to be a shade tighter than they are in the South with rumours of some factories in the North west, North East and East competing for cattle.
However, it is only the hardened seller that is successfully squeezing a bit extra in price with reports of 336-339c/kg paid for steers to farmers playing one plant off another. Similarly, prices of 340-342c/kg have been got for heifers despite the factories' efforts to keep the base quote at 336c/kg. So, if you are selling, don't be afraid to bargain hard. Where plants are quoting off the grid they are generally 8c/kg below the R figure for the O grades and 6c/kg above it for the Us.
The tops I heard for the young bulls was 350c/kg for U grades but that same plant was trying to buy at 345c/kg. It was a similar story for the Rs where despite offering 330c/kg they were willing to give 336c/kg. The O grades were making 319-325c/kg here.
Elsewhere, the Us are making 342-347c/kg even though some plants continue to quote as low as 336c/kg. The Rs are between 330-339c/kg with the O grades making 319-322c/kg. IFA's Michael Doran said that with up to 1,000 cattle going to the North every week, supplies were tightening in the South and that in order to cover the increase in production costs, farmers need to get a minimum of 10c/kg above current prices. He added that the cow trade is very good.
Donegal is paying 305c/kg for good U grade cull cows and 300c/kg for O+ and R grades over 320kg carcass. O grades in other plants are making 280-291c/kg. R and U grades are at anything up to 308c/kg but the plainer P type is a bit tougher with 252-266c/kg being mentioned for her.
An Bord Bia reported that the cattle trade for steers and heifers remained relatively firm, with some easing in market demand being absorbed by lower supplies. However, some weakening in manufacturing demand has slowed the cull cow trade.
Quotes for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System were generally in the range 330-336 c/kg. Heifer prices were showing base quotes of 336-342c/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock. The cow trade eased slightly with O grade cows selling for between 278-288c/kg.