Christmas has come early for the beef sector
Steers Heifers Cull Cows Young Bulls PRICES continue on their upward trajectory this week. Bullocks moved up to bases of €3.95-4.00/kg with heifers reported as selling from €4.05-4.10/kg with €4.15 being paid on special orders.
U bulls up to 24 months are on €4.10 with €4.15/kg reportedly available in places. R grades move to €4.00/ kg with Os on €3.90. That O grade price may be a little harder to secure than some of the prices mentioned for better quality. Reports continue of €3.90/kg been given for under 16-month Friesians.
Cull cows have moved up about 5-10c/kg with Rs trading from €3.60-3.65/kg back to €3.20-3.30/kg for your better P grade while O grades see their price harden to between €3.40-3.45/kg.
With strong demand for beef continuing from the factories, the question of supply remains. Last week saw just over 38,000 cattle killed. Numbers will ease, but by how much? Only time will tell.
As we move to the end of 2017 how will those in the cattle fattening business remember the year? For some people in the business, it was a revelation that prices do not automatically stagnate or fall once weekly kills reach the 30,000-32,000 mark.
The year opened with bullock prices on a base of between €3.75-3.80/kg with heifers on €3.85-3.90/kg. It was well into April before €3.90/kg was reached for steers, but once that happened we were at €4.05/ kg by the end of the month with heifers by then closing in on €4.10-4.15/kg.
By the end of May we had reached the crest of the wave as bullocks hit €4.15-4.20/kg with heifers generally on €4.25-4.30 and select deals done at €4.35.
Bulls by now were on €4.20/kg for Us back to €4.05-3.90 for Os.
But as July opened the slide was on, and by the first week of August base prices for bullocks had dipped as low as €3.70/kg in some places.
The reality was that at €3.70/kg grass finishers were actually in a better place than their winter finishing counterparts who had taken €3.75-3.80/kg in the first three months of the year.
Poor autumn weather and the extra numbers of finished cattle began to be felt by September.
Factory prices threatened to slide further in October. Then something extraordinary began to happen. As we entered November, and with kill numbers staying stubbornly high at 34,00036,000 per week, factory demand actually began to increase and with it prices.
Week on week through November and into December, numbers went ever upwards followed by factory prices with factory demand seeming insatiable.
The 40,000 head barrier was broken in the last week in November with bullocks generally on €3.90/kg and heifer’s €4.00-4.05. Today everything is 5-10c/kg stronger again. It is indeed a Happy Christmas for some.