Beef cat­tle mov­ing on as feed gets scarce

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FARMMARKETS - Martin Ryan

Grad­ual up­ward beef price move­ment at fac­to­ries has con­tin­ued to de­liver im­prov­ing re­turns to fin­ish­ers for their live­stock this week. While the con­sec­u­tive shorter work­ing weeks St Pa­trick’s day and Easter re­sulted in pro­ces­sors re­duc­ing in­takes in line with lost days on the bon­ing lines, the over­all beef cat­tle sup­ply re­mained strong. De­spite this, the power in price ne­go­ti­at­ing re­main bal­anced be­tween pro­ces­sors and beef fin­ish­ers, with each hav­ing strong cards in their hand.

The pro­ces­sors need all the cat­tle they can get, which leaves the fin­isher in a rea­son­ably strong po­si­tion to keep up­ward pres­sure on prices. The base price for steers this week is 400 cents/kg in gen­eral. Some fin­ish­ers are suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­at­ing for 405 cents/kg, and the in­di­ca­tors are that the trade for steers is mov­ing pos­i­tively in that di­rec­tion, but it has a lit­tle way to go be­fore 405c be­comes the norm. Heifers con­tinue to trade at a premium of 10 cents/kg over steer prices.

The gen­eral base for heifers is 410 cents/kg, with up to 415 cents/kg be­ing paid in some re­gions of the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly in the north­ern half. The feed sup­ply on most farms is now reach­ing a crit­i­cal point, which is putting pres­sure on farm­ers to move out stock as early as pos­si­ble, which in turn is con­tribut­ing to main­tain­ing the strong sup­ply to fac­to­ries, and coun­ter­act­ing any in­cli­na­tion among farm­ers to hold fin­ished cat­tle in the hope of higher prices to come. The cost of buy­ing in feed has risen very sharply in re­cent weeks, to the point where it quickly erodes the ben­e­fit of any ex­tra re­turn that could be an­tic­i­pated by de­lay­ing the sale of stock. The sup­ply to fac­to­ries reached around 33,300 head last week, a strong sup­ply for the end of March, and in line with ex­pec­ta­tions for the shorter week.

Cow prices are fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar pat­tern to that of prime beef prices. While the prices be­ing of­fered by pro­ces­sors this week are sta­ble over­all, they are show­ing a slight hard­en­ing for the higher grades. There are some re­ports that the mar­gin be­tween the R-grade steer price and the sim­i­lar grade in cows has nar­rowed to just over 20 cents/kg, which must in­di­cate a strong mar­ket for man­u­fac­tur­ing beef — which is al­ways re­garded as a good over­all omen for the beef trade go­ing for­ward.

O/P-grade cows are rang­ing from 320 cents/kg to 350-355 cents/kg, while in gen­eral the bet­ter qual­ity R-graders are mak­ing 370-375 cents/kg.

Pic­ture: O’Gor­man Pho­tog­ra­phy

Win­ning owner Ted O’Sul­li­vAn, BArtlemy, Co Cork, show­ing his ChAm­pion Here­ford, ‘Furleigh Lieu­tenAnt’, At the re­Cent Bull show And sAle in Cor­rin SArt, Fer­moy: in­Cluded Are mArt Com­mit­tee mem­Bers SArtin Dor­gAn And SiChAel RyAn, And Ben RyAll, WAter­grAsshill, who judged the Bulls.

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