Last week’s 37,768 in­take is a new peak for 2017

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FARMMARKETS - Martin Ryan

Cat­tle farm­ers con­tinue to suf­fer a dou­ble whammy of bad weather forc­ing them to move live­stock off the land, com­pounded by fall­ing prices at the fac­to­ries for beef cat­tle. Af­ter Septem­ber rain­fall as high as 183% of the long term av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to Met Eire­ann sta­tis­tics, land in many re­gions of the coun­try has be­come wa­ter logged. Farm­ers have to choose be­tween hous­ing live­stock or sell­ing an­i­mals which are fin­ished or nearly fit, lead­ing to the re­cent peak weekly in­takes at beef fac­to­ries for the year to date.

Most pro­ces­sors have eased prices to a base of 370 cents/kg for steers this week. There are some deals at 375 cents/kg be­ing ne­go­ti­ated, but the re­al­ity is that the weekly sup­ply of stock to the plants is now ex­ceed­ing re­quire­ments, and the fac­to­ries are in a very strong po­si­tion to dic­tate the price on a ‘take it or leave it’ pol­icy.

Quoted prices for heifers are fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar pat­tern, at a base of 380 cents/kg, and farm­ers strug­gling to ne­go­ti­ate a base of 385 cents/ kg.

Pro­ces­sors were fast to cut prices when when the ster­ling ex­change rate hit 95p dur­ing the later sum­mer months, but are still cut­ting prices now, af­ter the re­cov­ery in ster­ling to 88-89p in re­cent weeks.

Beef fin­ish­ers who held onto stock, when a steer base of 380-385 cents/kg was read­ily avail­able, are now look­ing at tak­ing less per head even though the cat­tle are heav­ier, and the fin­ish­ers have in­curred the ad­di­tional costs of meal feed­ing in the mean­time. It is go­ing to take a tight­en­ing of the cat­tle sup­ply to bring about a re­cov­ery in prices at the fac­to­ries.

At this time of the year, there is al­ways un­cer­tainty about the sup­ply go­ing for­ward, and with in hind­sight, pre­dic­tions are rarely shown to have been cor­rect.

Cow prices have also eased this week, across the range but more par­tic­u­larly at the up­per level of the trade, which is not sur­pris­ing when one ob­serves that that the gap be­tween prime R-grade beef and R-grade cows had nar­rowed to around 20 cents/kg. Base prices on of­fer for O/Pgrade cows are in the 305-310 cents/kg range in gen­eral, with the R-grade cows mak­ing around 330 cents/kg. There was a fur­ther in­crease in the weekly cat­tle kill last week, re­flect­ing the pres­sure on fin­ish­ers to move stock off wet land, with the to­tal in­take of around 37,768 set­ting a new weekly peak for 2017.

To­tal in­take at the beef fac­to­ries to the end of Septem­ber was 5.6% up on the same pe­riod in 2016, with an ex­tra 68,000 stock sup­plied. How­ever, there are some vari­a­tions within the cat­e­gories of the kill.

While the sup­ply of steers is 9.3% higher than 2016 (an ex­tra 42,474 head), the num­ber of young bulls is back by 9,819, which equates to 9.3% of a de­cline.

The num­ber of heifers is up by al­most 20,000 head, or 6.3%, and cow num­bers slaugh­tered are 13,838 head higher, show­ing an in­crease of 5.3%.

Picture: O’Gor­man Photography

Ban­don lart store cat­tle show and sale Here­ford/An­gus cross heifer class; from left, Gavin Kiely, Sk­ib­bereen & Ban­don Credit Union (class spon­sor); win­ning owner John Lor­dan, Ban­don; Sean lur­phy, Ban­don lart; and lary Crow­ley, Sk­ib­bereen & Ban­don Credit Union.

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