It’s time to start driv­ing hard bar­gains as sup­plies be­gin to ease

Irish Independent - Farming - - BEEF RINGSIDE - Grid Quote Range E U Gen­eral Prices Paid R O Tops Re­ported P

Steers Heifers Cull Cows Young Bulls THE ques­tion posed in this column last week by New Ross auc­tion­eer Jim Bush was whether there was an im­mi­nent eas­ing in num­bers of cat­tle fit for slaugh­ter. The an­swer ap­pears to be yes as num­bers dropped last week by nearly 2,000 to 36,100.

Mean­while, IFA pres­i­dent Joe Healy laid out some very rel­e­vant fig­ures of his own at the week­end. EU mar­kets are 30c/kg above where they were this time last year; the UK price for an R3 steer is £3.76/kg which is equiv­a­lent to €4.45/kg.

And in re­la­tion to what cat­tle are left in the sys­tem, this year’s kill is up 72,000hd to date on 2016. Over 38,000 young bulls are gone out of the sys­tem to Turkey and with car­case weights fall­ing by 6kgs that’s equiv­a­lent to 30,000 ex­tra cat­tle the fac­to­ries have to find.

Added to­gether that fairly mops up the 100,000 ex­tra cat­tle that were pre­dicted to be in the sys­tem at the start of the year.

In the short term, fac­tory bosses con­tinue to have an iron grip on pric­ing with very lit­tle vari­a­tion al­lowed from base prices of €3.703.75/kg for bul­locks and €3.80-3.85/kg for heifers. I have heard of deals where a few cents more was forth­com­ing, but only af­ter a se­ri­ous strug­gle and the threat of that fac­tory loos­ing the deal to some of their op­po­si­tion.

This re­flects the fact that at the con­sumer end the fac­to­ries are feed­ing a very strong de­mand and need all the cat­tle they can get.

As bul­lock num­bers ease back, the num­ber of cull cows com­ing on the mar­ket is in­creas­ing and while heavy good con­for­ma­tion suck­ler cows are com­mand­ing in ex­cess of €2.00/ kg from fac­tory agents at marts, the price at the fac­tory gate to the farmer has dipped.

The best that can be said is the bet­ter R grade cows, while be­ing quoted at €3.40/ kg, will in places make €3.50/kg es­pe­cially if a deal for a num­ber of an­i­mals is de­pen­dent on it.

O grades have slipped to be­tween €3.30-3.10/kg with Ps now rang­ing from €2.903.10/kg. The story with the bulls is a lit­tle bet­ter with last week’s prices in gen­eral hold­ing at €4.00-3.95/kg for Us with Rs on €3.90/kg and Os on €3.80-3.75/kg.

Th­ese flat prices are for stock be­tween 16 and 24 months. The base for un­der 16-month bulls con­tin­ues to be €3.90/kg.

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