Farm Ireland

Thursday 26 April 2018

R grade cull cows sell for same price as the young bulls

Joe Healy

"The women are the same as the boys and I'm not commenting on the Eurovision", a beef finisher said to me yesterday morning as soon as he answered his phone.

By way of explanation he went on to say that last week he had sold old R grade cull cows for 350c/kg while, in a different part of the country, his brother- in-law had sold R grade bulls, less than two years old, for 350c/kg.

Where are we going as an industry? He asked and then he was gone. Definitely food for thought.

Another finisher again highlighted the need for the QA age of 30 months to be pushed out to 36 months to help alleviate the absolute bottleneck we have witnessed over the past few months as the date of birth on the card became the single most important aspect of deciding when to sell.

In any event it has been a pretty stable week for the beef trade with steers and heifers holding firm and bulls and cows showing some more signs of improvement.

Despite some of the processors paying €4/kg for heifers when pushed hard, it seems most stuck to the base quote of 395c/kg.

Similarly, the steers continue to be quoted at 390-395c/kg with the toughened sellers refusing to go below the 395c/kg.

Mixes of U and R grade bulls are making up to 370c/kg with the quotes for these individual grades generally at 370c/kg and 360c/kg respectively.

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Quotes and prices for the Os vary from 300-335c/kg depending on the type of O that they are.

There is mention of young bulls under 16 months being sold on the grid at 380-390c/kg.

The IFA's Henry Burns said that there is more bite to the trade this week with cows improved by 10c/kg and stronger demand for bulls and heifers with O grade bulls making up to 340c/kg and a tops of 390c/kg for Us. He added that the tops of the cows were making up to 370c/kg.


As mentioned already, the cull cows are showing positive signs. While quotes for the P grades fall as low as 290c/kg, most farmers are bargaining successfully for the €3/kg and getting between €3-3.35/kg for the Os.

Quotes for the Rs start at 330c/kg but realistically any farmer selling is getting between 340-350c/kg, and more on occasions, where a mix of R and U grades are on offer.

In these situations the price is generally at the U grade level of 350-370c/kg. One factory man urged this column to advise farmers not to slaughter thin under-fleshed cows. He said they should feed them well for a period or else sell at the marts if they just wanted to get rid of them.

An Bord Bia described the beef trade as steady over the past week with continued high supplies underpinning the trade.

Trade remains similar to recent weeks across our key export markets.

Prices quoted by export meat plants during the week were relatively similar to previous weeks.

Steers were, on average, purchased at a base price of between €3.90-3.95/kg on the Quality Payment System. Heifers traded at a base price of between €3.95-4.00/kg.


These prices exclude the €0.12/kg bonus which is payable on in-spec QA animals. Prices paid for O grade cull cows were generally ranging between €2.95-3.10/kg.

Cumulative supplies for the year to-date are running at around 64,000 head or almost 13pc above the figures for the corresponding period last year. Cumulative supply of heifers are up over 17pc on the same period last year with steers and young bulls up by over 10pc respectively.

The estimated kill for last week from the Department of Agriculture was 29,630hd.

This, apart from the first week of January, was the first time that the weekly kill dipped under the 30,000 mart but it is still over 3,000 hd more than the corresponding week last year.

In Britain, reported cattle prices from the AHDB have decreased with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg 361.9 pence/kg dw (equivalent to 462 c/kg incl VAT dw) for the week ended 3rd May.

Trade has remained similar to recent weeks with demand remaining best for steak cuts.

On the continent, no significant changes have been reported with the trade remaining similar to previous weeks.

In France the R3 young bull was making €3.99/kg incl VAT with the O3 cow making €3.61/kg.

The R3 young bull in Italy was making €4.08/kg and the O3 cow €2.99/kg.

Indo Farming