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Heifers lead the charge on price as beef trade remains strong

It was females to the fore in the Irish and English Grand Nationals, with women training both winners.

The females are also setting the pace in the beef trade, with farmers holding out for a base of 460c/kg for the heifers. On the cow front, I heard of 395c/kg for O grades, 405c/kg Rs and 415c/kg for Us.

Having said that, the bulls are also showing signs of improvement, with prices paid suggesting a 5c/kg rise over the week. Steer quotes are generally at 430-435c/kg, with base prices of 435-440c/kg being bargained for and got.

Heifer quotes range from 450c/kg to 460c/kg. A lot of good finishers are demanding a base of 460c/kg before agreeing the deal.

Probably the best price I came across for bulls was 395c/kg for a mix of R and U-grade cattle that, like the heifers, included a few overage animals.

In spec bulls are up 5c/kg in Donegal, with the Us making 442c/kg and the Rs at 430c/kg. O+ bulls are up to 421c/kg, with the O= at 412c/kg.

Elsewhere, the general run for the Us range from 430c/kg to 435c/kg, with the Rs at 425-430c/kg.

Commenting on the trade, IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns said that prices remained strong with steer base prices of 440c/kg being negotiated and heifer prices of 450-460c/kg. He added that bull prices had also moved on with a number of plants offering 435-440c/kg.

Flat prices of as high as 480c/kg have been paid for heifers. Mr Burns said beef consumption figures for both Britain and our own domestic market were very positive. On live exports, the IFA man said the news was also positive, with another major exporter buying Continental and Friesian cross bulls for another boat to sail to Libya in mid-April.

Apart from the prices mentioned already for the cull cows, I also heard of 395c/kg flat for a mix of O and R grades. Top prices of 420c/kg continue to be offered for double muscled E grades. The Us are making from 400-415c/kg, with the R grades ranging from 380c/kg to 405c/kg. Cows grading O are making 360-395c/kg, while the Ps are at 350-465c/kg.

Estimated kill figures for last week from the Department of Agriculture were 24,603hd, which was similar enough to the numbers slaughtered last year. To date this year, cattle supplies are running 8pc or around 27,800 head higher compared to last year's levels.

The beef trade in Britain was firmer during the past week, with tight supplies assisting the market. Demand for round and steak cuts remained robust, with a good trade reported over Easter. Trade for forequarter continues to be steady.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB firmed during the past week, with GB R4L grade steers averaging 394.4p/kg dw (Equivalent to 486c/kg inclusive of VAT deadweight) for the week ended March 30.

On the Continent, there was little change to report, with trade firm across most markets. Overall, trade continues to be helped somewhat by ongoing tight supplies across the different key export markets. Best demand is for hindquarter product. In Italy, R3 young bulls are making €4.15/kg including VAT, with O3 cows making €3.07/kg.

Irish Independent