Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Make sure you check the quote for all non-QA cattle

Joe Healy

Hurling supporters will be hoping for fair ticket allocations for Sunday's All-Ireland final.

They might have a better chance of fair treatment than beef farmers, especially those who are not quality assured (QA). A case in point was one of the farmers who contacted me last week who sold cattle on the grid at 410c/kg. He wasn't asked whether or not he was QA. When his returns came out the base was 380c/kg.

When he enquired he was told that the steers were not QA stock so not only was he losing the QA 12c/kg (which he had no problem accepting), but also 30c/kg on steers over the 400kg carcass weight.

On examination of the returns, the pricing doesn't seem to follow any logic with 380c/kg paid for an R+2=, while a similar-aged steer grading R+3- was paid 386c/kg. And while a U+ 2+ on the grid carries a bonus of 24c/kg, another one of the farmer's steers grading U+2- enjoyed a 30c/kg bonus based on the 380c/kg base. I would welcome a Dawn representative to explain their logic.

A phone call from another beef farmer who was lucky enough to contact her ABP plant before selling and asked about any difference got a similar reply of a 25-30c/kg gap between the base for QA and non QA cattle. Elsewhere, a 10c/kg gap seems to be more common. The bottom line is that either you join the scheme or at the very least in the meantime you make sure what you are quoted is exactly for what you are selling.

Quotes for steers this week are generally at 410-415c/kg with a slight effort around the midlands to see if a reduction is possible.

However, prices at the moment are in the 410-415c/kg bracket with a tops of 420c/kg negotiated. I did hear of Herefords in the southeast making an all-in price of 440c/kg. Apparently a number of them were Os so if you strip away the 15c/kg Hereford bonus and the 12c/kg QA you are at a base of 413c/kg but even leaving the Os as O+ and allowing for the 12c/kg penalty, this gave the farmer in question a real base of 425c/kg for those animals.

The heifers are at 420-425c/kg, topping at 430c/kg. O grade bulls travelling north are making €4/kg with free transport. Quotes in the Republic range from 380-390c/kg. The Rs are at 400c/kg with the U grades at 410c/kg. Farmers selling bulls under 16 months have secured 410c/kg on the grid. Including the QA bonus would bring a U=2+ bull up to a final price of 440c/kg (410c/kg base plus the 12c/kg QA and the 18c/kg grid bonus).

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The IFA's Henry Burns said the supply-demand situation remained tightly balanced.

He added that negative talk from factories was being dismissed by farmers who are busy and maximising thrive from very strong grass growth.

Cull cows remain unchanged with the best types making up to 395c/kg. R grades are making from 350-375c/kg, while O grade cows are selling between 320-340c/kg. P cows are making from 300-320c/kg.

The estimated kill last week was 28,794hd. Trade continues to be helped by tight supplies across Britain and other key European markets, combined with some improvement in market demand as trade settles following the holiday period.

For the year to-date, cattle throughput is running almost 81,000 head above last year's levels. Steers and cows continue to account for most of the increase.

In Britain, trade was steady with best demand for steak cuts and forequarter product. However, trade for round cuts is described as slower than usual. The AHDB reported some further easing in prices, with the GB R4L steer price now making 393.8p/kg (€4.83/kg incl VAT) for the week ending August 24.

In Italy, R3 young bull price is €4.15/kg incl VAT, while the O3 cow price is €3.10/kg. The R3 young bull price in France was €4/kg, while the O3 cow price fell by 2c/kg to €3.92/kg incl VAT.

Irish Independent