Farm Ireland

Friday 27 April 2018

Lower kill estimate is the only good news for our beef farmers

Joe Healy

Sunday may have been referred to as Super Sunday for the European Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor but yesterday, or indeed any of the last few Mondays, could not be referred to as Magic Mondays or anything similar for any beef farmer selling cattle at the moment.

The only bit of good news for them is that the kill estimate of 34,370hd is 1,000 less animals than for the corresponding week last year. So, maybe we are about to see the expected drop in weekly kill figures as we move to the latter part of the year. To date, supplies are running 10pc or 113,000hd higher than last year.

Steer base prices remain in the 294-297c/kg range with the heifers at 300-302c/kg. Those quotes are to be got at most of the big three processors as well as Moyvalley, Kildare, Roscrea, Dunbia, Liffey, Slaney and Duleek. There are reports of more being paid with 300c/kg said to have been offered in the northeast for underage steers.

Donegal Meats are paying 311c/kg and 319c/kg for quality assured in-spec R and U grade cattle. Young bull prices for U grades range from the 300c/kg on offer from Moyvalley up to the 319c/kg being quoted by Kepak Clonee. Elsewhere, the quotes are between 308-314c/kg. The Rs in the two plants mentioned are at 294 and 308c/kg respectively, with the rest at 300-305c/kg.

IFA's Michael Doran said that underage cattle are extremely tight and that factories are having to pay a base 300c/kg for the steers and 310c/kg for the heifers. He added that grass is plentiful and that farmers should be demanding more than the factories are quoting.

There are strong reports of O+ and R grade cull cows commanding prices of 266 and 280c/kg respectively. If you have numbers you are definitely in a strong bargaining position. Most of the plants are only quoting from 252-261c/kg for the good cows but are obviously willing to pay more. The plainer types are being quoted in a range of 235-246c/kg. The cattle trade showed little change over the past week according to Bord Bia, as market demand was stable while reports suggest that supplies were somewhat tighter as the week progressed.

Quotes for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System (QPS) were maintained with the base reference price running between 297 and 302c/kg. Heifer prices also remain steady and were generally in the range 302 to 308c/kg. These prices exclude the 6c on in-spec quality assured stock. There was little change to report in cow prices with O grades generally making from 241 to 252c/kg.

In Britain, trade remained steady. Steak continues to be in reasonable demand while round and forequarter cuts continue firm. Reported cattle prices from the AHDB dropped slightly with GB R4L grade steers averaging at Stg274p/kg dw (equivalent to 333c/kg dw) for the week to September 25.

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On the Continent, there was little change to report in the beef trade with on-going promotional activity helping to maintain trade. Demand for forequarter cuts remains reasonably good. In France, Irish steer hindquarters are making 442c/kg. R3 young bull prices in Italy increased by 5/c to 379c/kg, with O3 cow prices remaining unchanged at 264c/kg.

Elsewhere, the latest English June 2010 livestock survey released by Defra, the English beef herd is showing some signs of a recovery.

English cattle numbers increased by 1pc to 5.5m head. Virtually all the increase took place in the two years and over category. The beef breeding herd seems set to remain relatively steady with female numbers up slightly to 3.98m head, as the effects of increased heifer replacement retention last year become evident. Little change in female calves aged less than 1 year was evident at 815,000hd.

Irish Independent