ALTHOUGH the weekly intake of cattle at beef factories has gone ahead of 2007 levels for the first time this year, market driven demand is ensuring that an upward cattle price trend continues.
Prices being paid have hardened by 3 to 6 cents/kg (1p or 2p/lb) at the plants this week, as processors and their agents compete vigorously for the supply of finished cattle, which still remains tight relative to demand.
Prices being paid by processors in the southern counties — who usually trail the rest of the country — have advanced most in recent weeks, many of them increasing prices to parity with some of the best paying processors in the country.
They seem to be counteracting the shipping of the best quality cattle out of the province in search of better prices. There is now little incentive for farmers to truck cattle north, because the price gap between factories has narrowed significantly.
Prices being paid for R grade steers this week range from 353 to 361 cents/kg (126p to 129p/lb), with processors in the north west continuing to pay the top rate. The prices being secured for O grade steers vary from 342 to 350 cents/kg (122p to 125p/lb).
Heifer prices are 3 to 6 cents/kg (1p-2p/lb) stronger than for the steers.
Deals are being done between factories and farmers, for example, with transport paid for, or flat prices agreed for better quality lots of cattle.
Mixes of U and R grade steers are making flat prices of 364 cents/kg (130p/lb), and good quality R grade lots with a few Os included are making a little less in deals.
Intake at the factories in recent weeks exceeded the same weeks in 2007 by up to 3,000 head, the first time this year that supply has gone ahead of 2007.
The supply of steers is running about 1,000 head per week higher than in 2007. Intake last week was just over 28,000 head, about 1,700 head higher than the corresponding week last year. The supply of steers last week was around 10,000 head.
Nonetheless, processors are still very anxious to procure cattle, to satisfy strong market demand. With the last of the yarded cattle stock now coming out, it is expected to be early July — at least — before cattle are finished off grass. In the meantime, there is nothing on the horizon that should dampen cattle prices.
Prices in Britain have continued to strengthen, with R4L grade steers making the equivalent of 358 cents/kg (128p/lb), including VAT.
Cow prices are also holding very strong. Prices for O and P grade cows are running at about 302 cents/kg (108p/lb), and heavy R grade cows are making up to 318 cents/kg (113p/lb).
* Tuesday’s cattle sale was the last time for the auctioneer’s hammer to fall at Fermoy Mart. Sales move to the magnificent new centre at Rathcormac next week.
There will be no sheep sale next Monday, and the first sale at the new centre will be a cattle and sheep sale next Tuesday. The sheep sale will revert to Monday on subsequent weeks.
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