Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Shopping around proving worthwhile for producers


Joe Healy

Some factory sources would have you believe that prices are under as much pressure as the Dublin forwards were last Sunday.

However, similar to Donegal, this pressure has to give way to the real facts and, in the case of the beef trade, the simple fact is that farmers know they do not have to accept some of the lower quotes, and shopping around is proving to be extremely worthwhile, especially for heifers, bulls and cull cows. Supplies, while steady, remain relatively tight as last week's estimated kill of 30,450hd is more than 1,100 down on the same week last year.

Quotes for the steers are generally at 350-355c/kg, which is similar enough to last week although, within this, there are just a few plants chancing their arm and pulling the quote by 3c/kg. Luckily for the farmer, actual prices being negotiated and paid are at least holding firm for the steers, with 355-360c/kg being negotiated. Heifer quotes range from 355-360c/kg but finishers are freely bargaining for and getting 360-370c/kg, with plants in the east and north east mentioned at the upper end. Other factory men said to me that there was a large number of roughish-type cattle around but that for nice quality stock they were paying prices well in excess of what they were quoting. Despite this, I know some farmers accepting a low base of 350c/kg, while finishers could have negotiated 358c/kg for the same cattle. The difference with the heifers could be as much as 10-15c/kg.

Prices in Donegal have dropped by 6c/kg. This leaves them on 350c/kg for the O- in-spec steers, 358c/kg for the O+, 367c/kg for the Rs and 375c/kg for the Us. The heifers are at 3c/kg more. The bulls are at 370c/kg, 361c/kg, 353c/kg and 339c/kg for the U, R, O+ and O- grades respectively. O+ cows over 280kg are at 330c/kg.

Around the country, quotes for U-grade bulls are at 368-370c/kg, Rs are at 358-361c/kg and O grades are on 342-345c/kg. Prices being paid for the Us run at 370-380c/kg, with the Rs at anything from 358-370c/kg. The Os are making up to 350c/kg. I'm aware of deals being done flat for a mix of Rs and Us at 380c/kg.

Commenting on the trade, the IFA's Michael Doran said that with supplies continuing to be tight and UK prices remaining strong at 386c/kg, finishers here were refusing to accept any downward attempt by the processors and holding out for base prices of 360c/kg for steers and 370c/kg for heifers.

Moyvalley appears to be the plant to go to if you have good heavy R and U-grade cull cows killing out above 400kg. They are extremely anxious for these at the moment and are willing to pay up to 350c/kg if the cows are suitable.

Tops around the country for the good cows is in the 308-336c/kg range with O grades at 298-319c/kg. The P+ cows range from 291-308c/kg.

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