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Reports of €5/kg raising feel-good factor for beef men

While new cycling sensation Dan Martin was celebrating his big win at the weekend, I also came across a couple of farmers feeling quite chuffed at achieving the magical figure of €5/kg for extremely good heifers.

In one of the cases we were talking about an E grade, while in the other case, a tough bargain secured a base of 465c/kg. This along, with the new improved quality assurance (QA) bonus of 12c/kg drove his U+ heifers up to 501c/kg.

What's seldom is wonderful they say and, yes, despite the massive costs associated with all things agriculture this year, it is somewhat encouraging and uplifting to see 500c/kg on a cattle docket.

Similarly, the 440c/kg flat for U and R-grade bulls last week has not been a once-off as more deals are being done this week at those prices. Good young Friesian bulls were said to be making up to 420c/kg flat.

Adding to the feel-good factor here is that factories continue to be very anxious for stock, despite the estimated kill figures from the Department of Agriculture for last week showing an increase of close on 1,000 animals to 28,050hd. This was some 3,400hd higher than last year's kill for the corresponding week. But, having said that, in 2011 the kill was just shy of 30,000hd.

The general run of quotes and prices for steers remains at 430-435c/kg around the country. However, a few farmers selling good bullocks flat have bargained successfully for a flat price of 440c/kg.

The heifers have also retained the status quo, with quotes in the main running between 450c/kg and 460c/kg – with prices more likely to be in the 455-460c/kg area. A few big sellers or groups continue to secure base prices of 463-465c/kg.

Farmers need to shop around as a 15c/kg difference on a 350kg carcase equates to a loss or gain of over €50/hd.

As already mentioned, hardened sellers have negotiated prices of up to 440c/kg flat for a mix of U and R-grade bulls. Factories are anxious for bulls under 24 months. Their general quote for the U grades is 430-435c/kg, with up to 442c/kg to be nailed in the northwest.

The Rs are at 425-430c/kg quote-wise, while the O quote and price runs from 410c/kg to 421c/kg.

Commenting on the beef trade, the IFA's Henry Burns said prices were firm, with a base of 440c/kg paid for steers and 460-465c/kg for heifers. He added that up to 490c/kg was secured for specialist heifers. He said that good bulls were making 435-445c/kg, with up to 415c/kg paid for U-grade cull cows.

Quotes and prices for P-grade cows vary from 340c/kg to 365c/kg, with the O grades at 365-380c/kg. The Rs are generally in the range of 390-405c/kg, while U grades are making between 400-415c/kg. Top-quality double-muscled E grades are making up to 420c/kg.

The trade remained firm during the past week, Bord Bia reported, with tight supplies assisting the market. Round and steak cuts remains robust. Trade for forequarter remains solid.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB firmed during the past week, with GB R4L grade steers averaging 396.1p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 488c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended April 6.

On the Continent, there was little change to report, with trade firm across most markets. Overall, trade continues to be helped somewhat by ongoing tight supplies across the different key export markets.

In Italy, R3 young bulls cancelled the previous week's increase of 9c/kg by dropping 10c/kg to €4.14/kg VAT inclusive, with O3 cows increasing by 1/c to €3.17/kg. Irish steer hinds in France are making between €5.56-5.66/kg including VAT.

Irish Independent