It’s been a hectic seven days for the beef trade, with quotes for all animals increasing in the last few days. With finished cattle in extremely short supply, some factories have been forced into increasing quotes by as much as 20c/kg this week on the back of short supply, coupled with big demand in both retail and manufacturing beef markets. Foyle Meats, Co Donegal, is still ahead of the pack with its base price quote of €5.30/kg for heifers and €5.25/kg base price for bullocks killing out between 300-400kg.
The general run of bullock base quotes is ranging from €5-€5.10/kg, with heifer base quotes working off €5.10-€5.20/kg. Cattle are still a little easier bought in the south, with a lot more competition for stock in the northern half of the country. All sorts of deals are being completed outside of these official quotes, with farmers advised to bargain hard on everything, from breed bonuses to haulage - everything is on the table at the moment.
U-grading cows are still hitting €5/kg to €5.05/kg and those with high numbers of good cows able to squeeze a little more out of the market.
R-grading cows are trading for as high as €4.90-€4.95/kg, with good O-grading cows coming in at €4.65-€4.75/kg.
Well fleshed P+3 cows have been paid out at €4.55/kg this week, when part of a load of cattle.
Agents have a lot of leeway at the moment in cattle purchasing, with strict instructions from procurement managers not to lose any cattle in the coming weeks.
Factory agents are regularly paying in excess of €3.00/kg for heavy, well-fleshed cows, which is in excess of the €5.20/kg beef price. The mart is still the place to go with small numbers of cows.
Bulls are also in demand, with U-grading bulls now up at €5.20/kg in a couple of factories and €5.30/kg being paid to a few large feeders this week. R-grading bulls are working off €5/kg to €5.05/kg, depending on flesh cover. Deals are being done at €5.10/kg for mixes of Rs and Us.
Young bulls are working off €5.05-€5.15/kg, with good demand from most factories.
The mart is still the place to reap the most value at the moment, particularly if you have in-spec heifers or bullocks or top-quality heavy cows. Factory agents are paying 30-40c/kg more in marts for factory fit cattle.
Watching Gortatlea Mart in Kerry on Friday night, I saw 10 Aberdeen Angus bullocks go through the ring at 644kg, with the hammer dropping at €2,060. That’s the equivalent of close to €5.90/kg when commission and haulage is worked into the bargain.
The NI trade has also kicked on in the last few days, with the equivalent of €5.65/kg being paid for heifers. Further afield, EU beef markets continue to perform strongly, with no huge changes in the last seven days.