Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Profit from tight supply before new year begins


Joe Healy

Our new European cross-country champion, Fionnuala Britton, is not the only one striking gold this week as beef farmers are experiencing something of a rebound in quotes over the weekend and for the early part of the week.

With last week's estimated kill at 31,300hd, this was somewhat surprising but it's a reflection of a positive market.

Agents and factory personnel were freely admitting yesterday morning that their job was to secure stock and finalise the deal. Do not leave stock behind seemed to be the message.

One slight area of concern was the rumour that the reason why the plants were so keen for stock yesterday morning was the fear of an escalation in the vets' work-to-rule strike as the week progressed.

Base quotes for the steers and heifers have definitely moved on by a minimum of 5c/kg, with the steers generally at 390-395c/kg base for today.

Many farmers are holding out for the higher end of those two figures, with in-spec R grades making 400c/kg in Donegal.

The base quote range for the heifers is 395-405c/kg. Seasoned sellers are definitely not accepting less than €4/kg, while hard sellers with numbers have secured base prices of up to 410c/kg. Donegal is on 406c/kg for the in-spec R grade heifers.

Tops for the U-grade bulls is 415c/kg, while the range varies from this back to 400c/kg. The R quotes are at 395-405c/kg, with few of them selling below the €4/kg. Os are making 380-395c/kg.

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Referring to the trade, the IFA's Michael Doran said that suitably finished cattle supplies were tight, with steers making 395c/kg and heifers selling for €400-405c/kg.


If you are selling, it is vital that you get a few factories to quote and bargain hard.

The processors are extremely anxious for stock at the moment so the ball is in the farmer's court.

It is also worth remembering that for various reasons, quite a few farmers are holding back cattle until we move into the new year. If this is the case, there just might not be the big scarcity in numbers that is expected in some quarters for the first few weeks of next month.

The cull cows remain at record price levels, with the top-quality heavy U grades making 350-360c/kg. Prices for the Rs are at 330-350c/kg, while the O grades are making 319-348c/kg. P+ cow prices are running at 314-336c/kg.

Trade for cattle remained strong throughout the past week, according to Bord Bia, reflecting solid demand for beef despite some increase in supplies towards the end of the week.

Best trade reported was for in-spec quality assured cattle.

Quotes for R-grade steers held steady under the Quality Payment System to average €3.85-3.90/kg. Heifer quotes were making in the region of €3.95-4/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec quality assured stock. O-grade cows were typically making €3.19-3.26/kg.

In Britain, the market remained steady with the best trade reported for fore-quarter product. A mixed trade was reported on steak cuts with rumps and fillets reasonable.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have eased, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg344.7p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 424c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended December 3.

On the Continent, there was little change reported in the beef market.

Demand generally eased slightly across the key export markets.

Trade for the more expensive product, such as striploins and fillets, started to build in the run-up to Christmas.

In Italy, R3 young bull prices averaged €4.11/kg, while O3 cows prices stood at €2.91/kg. Irish steer hinds in France are trading at €5.47/kg, with German cow hinds unchanged at €4.52/kg.

Indo Farming