Sector on rise as overall returns up €250m in 2011


Joe Healy

Prices have been as slick for most of the year as the ball handling skills of the Leinster side at the Aviva last Saturday evening. Advance estimates from the CSO for the past year show an income increase of 16.7pc -- or €250m -- for cattle for the year when compared with the previous year. This, along with increases in all of the other agri sectors, resulted in a 33.4pc operating surplus for the year.

With last week's kill estimated at 27,900hd, factories were, and continue to be, under pressure to satisfy their demands. This figure, while running 3,400hd behind the previous week, was 10,800hd down on the same week last year.

Quotes and prices have continued to strengthen across the board, with the general run of steer quotes at 395-400c/kg. Actual base prices negotiated are usually closer to the 400c/kg mark, with reports of at least one plant in the east willing to go a little above this if it would secure the deal there and then. The QA bonus of 6c/kg is on top of this price.

On the heifer front, quotes vary from 400-410c/kg with very few of them bought at less than 405c/kg. Again, solid information would suggest that plants are willing to pay 415-420c/kg to seal the sale.

The O-grade bulls are making 375-395c/kg. A price of 400-410c/kg is being quoted for the Rs, but deals have been done flat for a mix of R and U grades up to 420c/kg. Quotes for the Us run at 410-420c/kg.

IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said that the beef trade is very strong, with a combination of tight supplies and good demand resulting in base quotes for steers and heifers hitting 400 and 415c/kg respectively.

Some farmers have done deals with plants for the Christmas/New Year period. If you are one of those, make sure you maximise the value of your stock and know what the factory in question is willing to pay if you have agreed a deal that involves a bonus on top of the base quote, as some of them are already paying well in excess of the figures they are quoting.

The best I heard for cull cows was 364c/kg for heavy, well-fleshed R grades. Generally, the Rs are making from this back to 330c/kg, while the U grades are selling for 350-364c/kg.

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O-grade cows are selling for 319-348c/kg depending on carcass weight, with P grades at 314-336c/kg.


An Bord Bia reported that the trade for cattle improved again last week, reflecting on-going solid demand for beef despite current supplies being stronger compared to the same period last year. The best trade reported was for in-spec, Quality Assured cattle.

Quotes for R-grade steers increased under the Quality Payment System to average €3.90-4/kg. Heifer quotes were making €4-4.10/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec, Quality Assured stock. O-grade cows were making €3.19-3.36/kg.

In the UK, trade remained steady with the best trade reportedly for forequater products. A mixed trade was reported on steak cuts, with rumps and fillets being reasonable, offset against a weakening in demand for striploins. Elsewhere, trade for roasting joints remained steady as supplies were evenly matched with demand levels.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have eased, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg344.6p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 420c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ending December 10.

On the Continent, trade was reportedly steady across most of the key markets as consumers continued to stock up in advance of the Christmas period.

Trade for the more expensive products, such as striploins and fillets, is starting to build in the run up to Christmas.

Demand for forequarter product remained extremely strong. Otherwise, trade is reportedly steady for featherblades and eye rounds.

In Italy, R3 young bull prices averaged €4.10/kg, while O3 cows prices stood at €2.86/kg. Irish steer hinds traded at €5.26/kg in France, while in Germany, the R3 young bull prices increased by 3/c to €3.97/kg, with O3 cow prices unchanged at €2.92/kg.

Indo Farming

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