Quote rises prove hard to come by
Beef farmers have two options this week. Either they pray to St Patrick for a price rise or they back a few winners at Cheltenham because beef prices are as dull as the Irish dressing room in Cardiff last Saturday evening. At this rate, finishers will be doing very well to cover all the extra costs this year.
Factory bosses are quite happy to keep the quotes at the low levels while a 'managed' kill keeps the weekly numbers at 30,000-31,000hd. Last week's estimated kill just crept above the 31,000 mark.
Quotes for the steers remain in the 330-336c/kg range with the heifers at 336-342c/kg. Some farmers are holding out and getting a bit more but it is proving a difficult task. Despite this, I did hear of a plant paying up to 350c/kg for good, young heifers yesterday. Another man told me that having examined the grid and 'flat' prices that he was negotiating for his O-grade-type British Friesian steers, he concluded that he stood to gain as much as 17c/kg by selling them flat, with a similar story for his black whitehead heifers.
So the grid problems haven't gone away. At current prices, it is extremely difficult to see any positives having been achieved from the QPS, from a farmer's point of view, and it will definitely not help to push any beef producer -- as opposed to processor -- onto the rich list.
In-spec heifers going into Donegal Meats are making 358c/kg for the Us and 350c/kg for the Rs. The steers are 3c/kg back from this, while out-of-spec stock are a further 11c/kg back.
The young bull trade also remains sluggish. Reports suggest that up to 350c/kg was paid in the south but generally farmers are only being quoted 342-345c/kg for their U grades. Rs are at 330-336c/kg with the O grades at 319-322c/kg.
IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said finishers are demanding an immediate price increase to prevent them from yet another loss-making situation.
Prices for cull cows have ranged from a low of 266c/kg for the P+3 cows in places, right up to 311c/kg for the top-quality cows in Donegal Meats, where 305c/kg can be achieved for the O+ cows over 320kg.