Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Quotes unchanged despite a 5,000hd increase in numbers

Joe Healy

Farmers waiting for any significant improvement in cattle prices or a drop in the kill figures are getting a taste of the frustrations of doctors and patients who are waiting for their letters to be read in some of our major hospitals.

Last week's estimated cattle kill was up at 33,400 animals and continued the trend of running at between 4,000 and 5,000 ahead of the same week last year.

Expecting a realistic increase in quotes while the kill is this high is like Galway folk expecting the Liam MacCarthy cup to cross the Shannon this September. It could happen, but then England could beat Les Bleus by 50 points or more next weekend and allow Kidney's men to win the Six Nations too.

For farmers who continued to feed up to now in the hope of an improvement, this is extremely disappointing. Figures for the numbers of cattle in the different age groups circulated last December allied to the high kills, and the increased numbers being exported live had those farmers justifiably expecting that, at this stage, prices would be much better than they are.

However, the base quotes for today show little change, with 294c/kg being the norm for the steers and 300c/kg for the heifers. The QA payment of 6c/kg is paid on top of this.

On a positive note, some of the plants that were quoting less than those figures for the past few weeks have moved up to join the rest, and quite a few agents freely admitted yesterday morning that it was getting a bit more difficult to secure numbers as farmers have dug in their heels and refused to sell at the present prices.

Donegal still heads the field with its 314c/kg and 322c/kg for the QA in-spec R and U grades. For the young bulls in those grades they are paying 302c/kg and 311c/kg respectively.

Factories mentioned at the 294c/kg base included Moyvalley, Slaney, Liffey, Dunbia, Duleek and most of the AIBP, Dawn and Kepak plants. Liffey is staying at this figure for the heifers as well, while Dawn Ballyhaunis is on 297c/kg. In general, the rest of those mentioned are quoting the 300c/kg base.

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There is a bit more bite in the cull cow trade with several plants very anxious for them. Kepak Athleague has increased its prices by 6c/kg and is paying 235-246c/kg, which is similar to most plants around the country depending on carcass weight.


Donegal is paying tops at 261c/kg. Word from Eurofarm Duleek was that up to 280c/kg was paid for top-quality stock.

Bord Bia reported that while there was little change to report in the overall cattle trade over the past week, some pick-up was reported in heifer prices as demand was reportedly strong for good-quality heifers. Supplies continue to run ahead of earlier levels in similar years.

Quotes for R-grade steers under the QPS continue to make a base reference price of 294-297c, while heifer prices lifted during the week to 300-308c. These prices exclude the 6c on in-spec, quality-assured stock. The cow trade remains unchanged, with O grades now making 235-246c/kg.

The live cattle trade also remains strong with shipments reaching 10-year highs for the second consecutive week at more than 14,000hd.

In the UK, trade remained steady. Reported cattle prices from the AHDB for the week ending March 6 remain stable, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg280.8p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 325c/kg including VAT deadweight).

On the continent, a steady manufacturing trade, and a slight pick up in hindquarter demand, was reported. Ongoing promotional activity in several markets is helping to boost volumes. In Germany, R3 young bull prices fell by 3c to €3.31/kg, while O3 cow prices rose by 8c to €2.41c/kg.

In France, the Irish steer hindquarters made €4/kg.

Irish Independent