Prices and quotes are continuing to strengthen as kill numbers decline by roughly 1,000hd/ week compared to the corresponding week last year. Last week's figure of 27,650hd was almost 2,500 animals fewer than 12 months ago.
The finisher is the beneficiary in those circumstances and while Donegal is normally towards the top on prices, the fact that it had to increase its prices by 11c/kg over the past week speaks volumes as the number of cattle leaving the county was making the local factory uncomfortable.
At the moment, U and R-grade in-spec heifers are making 395c/kg and 386c/kg respectively. Elsewhere, I heard of a flat price of 364c/kg being paid in the midlands and the south for a mix of mainly O-grade and some R-grade bulls. Up to 378c/kg was reportedly paid for heifers in the east, where 370c/kg was paid for steers. Kildare also paid this price for steers. Reports are surfacing that steers made 372c/kg at Liffey Meats, and 336c/kg was mentioned for cows at the same plant.
Quotes are considerably below the prices mentioned above, with many factories officially offering 353-360c/kg for the steers and 364-370c/kg for the heifers. Where farmers have stock for sale, quotes generally range from 360-370c/kg for the steers and 370-380c/kg for the heifers. Quotes for U-grade bulls are in the 364-380c/kg bracket, with R grades at 355-364c/kg and O grades on 342-350c/kg.
IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said that the continued fall in cattle supplies was forcing processors to improve the prices on offer from finishers who are now in a very strong position to negotiate.
There is no let up in the cull cow trade either, as top grades make up to 336c/kg. As mentioned already, good Friesian cows sold for 320c/kg flat. Prices for O+ and Rs in Donegal are at 328c/kg, with the Us at 333c/kg. Elsewhere, the Os are making 308-319c/kg, Rs 319-325c/kg and the P+ grades selling for 300-308c/kg.
Meanwhile, Bord Bia said quotes for R-grade steers last week under the Quality Payment System were in the range of €3.56-3.64/kg. Heifer quotes were running at €3.70-3.75/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock.
In the UK, trade remained firm, helped by a decent demand for all parts of the carcass, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg 305.2p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 362c/kg including VAT deadweight).