Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Plants calling bluff as farmers hit road block in bid to sell prize bulls


Joe Healy

The difference between U2 and U-grade bulls this week is that while everyone wants a piece of our world famous rock band following their Golden Globe success, no one seems to be eager to source U-grade, or indeed, any grade of bulls.

Farmers trying to sell are hitting stone walls with some plants quoting ridiculously low figures for them and others showing no interest at all.

However, this has been proved on a few occasions to be a case of calling bluff in an effort to get the farmer to accept any price, with more than one farmer telling me that when they didn't push the issue the factory then seemed to engage more intently and strike a deal.

In any event it is only the bulls under 16 months that appear to be hitting the €4/kg mark at the moment. The bulls closing in on the two years are ranging from 380c/kg to 390c/kg for the U grades and 370-380c/kg for the Rs.

Now I was quoted as low as 355c/kg for R bulls and 340c/kg for Os yesterday morning. Farmers are, however, getting between 350-360c/kg for the O grade bulls.

P bulls are making between 340-345c/kg. Bulls over two years or very heavy bulls are a very difficult sell currently.

Quotes and prices for the steers in-spec are generally at the €4/kg, with 390c/kg being quoted for out-of-spec bullocks. While 410c/kg is buying most of the heifers, some farmers are negotiating up to 415c/kg. Again, the out-of-spec heifer is back at the €4/kg.

The cull cow seems to be holding pretty firm, with 360c/kg being got for good heavy continental cows. In the main the Us are making from 340-360c/kg.

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R grades are making from 320-350c/kg with the Os at 300-320c/kg. Plainer dairy types are varying from 280c/kg to 300c/kg. The estimated total kill for last week from the Department of Agriculture stood at 30,500hd.

This is roughly 12pc up on the 27,232hd that were killed in the corresponding week last year.

IFA national livestock chairman Henry Burns said the factories are continuing to bulldoze feeders on bulls.

He said factories are telling feeders they don't want to buy their bulls but what they really mean is they don't want to pay a viable or reasonable price for bulls.

He accused the factories of continuing to pull the price and wanting to get the bulls at heavily discounted prices.

"Only a short time ago, factories were actively encouraging farmers to keep dairy-bred calves for beef.

"They are now turning their backs on these farmers and imposing penal price cuts on them," Mr Burns said. He said the factories have not acted responsibly on the bull issue and added that Ireland has the potential to export 150,000hd to 180,000hd of calves in 2014.

He said the absence of a live trade for finished cattle, particularly to our largest beef export to market in Britain, is a major problem that must be addressed. He said there was unacceptably large beef price differential between Irish and British cattle prices.

In a very positive development, he said the IFA is expecting an announcement on a new ferry route to the UK in early 2014.

An Bord Bia reported that the early part of 2014 has seen little change in trade, with activity on the continent slow after the festive season.

Prices for steers under the Quality Payment System for the first week of 2014 were making around €4/kg, while heifers were reported to be continuing to make a minimum of €4.10/kg.

The trade for cull cows has remained under pressure with quotes for O grades being reported to range from €2.90 to €3.20/kg. Supplies for the first week were 9pc higher than the same period in 2013, due mainly to increasing supplies of steers and heifers.

There was little to report from Britain last week as trade was reported as slow after the Christmas period and yet to return to more normal levels. Reported cattle prices from the AHDB over the last week indicated that GB R4L grade steers were averaging £391.7p/kg dw.

This figure is equivalent to 496c/kg (including VAT deadweight) for the week ending January 4.

In France trade was reported as being quiet with prices largely unchanged, with the R3 young bull price for the week ending January 4 at €4.12/kg including VAT, while the 03 cow price was €3.51/kg.

In Italy, the R3 young bull price was €4.39/kg inclusive of VAT, while the 03 cow price was €3.09/kg.

Irish Independent