Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 23 April 2018

It's vital farmers left with realistic profit

CATTLE

Joe Healy

All's well that ends well, or so they say.

If we could just slightly change the wording to "all's well that begins well" then the year ahead would look fairly okay from a beef farmer's perspective.

This is because I have heard of grid prices of 420c/kg for underage and overage heifers, with up to 426c/kg flat having been mentioned also.

It is vital that farmers who fed on cattle to this stage, and indeed for the rest of the spring, do get a price that will leave them a realistic profit.

For farmers who had to go out and buy those cattle as stores, and paid top dollar for them, it is imperative that the factory price reflects all the money invested to get the stock to slaughter stage.

The higher cost of inputs, such as meal, diesel and electricity, should also be reflected in the price.

As ever, the quotes and prices differ significantly with some plants worse than others. Regardless of what you are being quoted, just keep in mind before you agree to sell that farmers have bargained for and secured the aforementioned grid price of 420c/kg for heifers, 410c/kg for the steers, with a mix of R and U grade bulls making 420c/kg also.

Prices

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Those selling bulls according to grade have received from 400c/kg to 410c/kg for their O grades, 406-415 for the Rs and 420c/kg for the Us.

These steer prices are some 50-60c/kg ahead of this time last year, while the heifer prices are 45-60c/kg up. On a 350kg carcass, this equates to a total price increase of up to €200/hd.

If you are willing to take what you are quoted then you stand to lose out on quite a lot of money that is there to be fought for.

IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran urged farmers with beef to sell to ensure that they get maximum value for their stock and that this was only achieved by getting quotes or prices from a number of processors and then bargaining hard to get the price up to the maximum and maybe getting something on transport before agreeing to sell.

There is no let-up as far as the cull cows are concerned.

A top of 364c/kg was being offered and paid for good heavy R and U grade types. U grades on their own were commanding 350-364c/kg.

R grades generally range from 342c/kg to 360c/kg. O grades were making 336-348c/kg with the P+ types varying from 314-336c/kg.

Demands

Factories and agents seemed to be extremely intent to tie down deals over the past week and not leave any cattle behind them as supplies appeared to be tight and definitely not satisfying market requirements.

One factory source did ask me to advise farmers through this column to make sure that their cows were of sufficient flesh before killing them as they (farmers) were losing a lot by selling thin cows.

If they are not fit for slaughter then the mart is the best option if you can't hold on to them.

Indo Farming