Farm Ireland

Friday 20 April 2018

Producers should dig in over price

Joe Healy

The All Blacks have struggled for the past 24 years to reclaim the Webb Ellis Cup but finally got there on Sunday.

For many beef farmers the wait for good beef prices from stock finished off grass probably feels a lot longer than this. But, in keeping with our fellow grass growers Down Under, maybe the holy grail is finally in sight.

The past few weeks were very positive in that despite much larger than expected weekly kills the prices actually improved as numbers began to tighten again.

Farmers are in a stronger position to dig in and push for prices of very close to, and in a few isolated cases at, €4/kg.

Actually, they do not even have to go about looking for it as factory agents are very active on the ground calling to anyone they expect to have cattle for slaughter.

Base quotes for steers have moved onto 360c/kg, with 365c/kg being negotiated in a few places. If the farmer wants a flat price, then that appears to be acceptable to most of the processors and reports of plain P and O grade stock going to the North at 350c/kg will only ensure that this will increase the willingness of the factories to satisfy the farmer's wishes if he/she wants to sell off the grid.

And factories have moved to match and improve on those prices from the North over the past few days for those plainer types here in the South, with 3-5c/kg more being offered.

Base quotes for heifers range from 370 to 375c/kg, with 380c/kg not uncommon. There are fairly solid reports of €3.90-€4 being negotiated by larger finishers with heifers to kill. The in-spec R and U grade heifers going into Donegal this week are making 386c/kg and 395c/kg respectively, with the O+ heifers at 378c/kg. The steers are running 6c/kg back from those figures in each grade.

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While €4/kg has been mentioned for more than one plant for good young bulls the general quote varies between 375-390c/kg for the U grades and 364-380c/kg for the Rs. The quotes for the Os range from 350-360c/kg.

The IFA's Michael Doran urged farmers to get a few agents or plants to quote for cattle that they are selling and to bargain hard now that the ball is in their court. He said that after a few strong weeks the kill and supplies were tightening up and that markets were strong. If you have good heavy U grade cull cows then you should be able to get from 336-350c/kg for them without too much difficulty. R grades are making from 325-339c/kg with the Os in a range of 308-328c/kg. Cows in the P+ category are making from 300-316c/kg.

In Britain the trade was reportedly steady due to tight supplies, particularly for VLs (visible leans). Demand continues to seasonally adjust from hindquarter product to forequarter product. Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have firmed with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg 337.3p/kg deadweight (€4.07/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended October 15.

Indo Farming