90,000 more cattle for beef factories than last year

IT is a case of more of the same at the beef factories this week as the cattle supply continues strong, and prices are stable.

Intake for last week remained ahead of 30,000 head, with the bridge between the yard cattle and those finished off the grass now well crossed, without any impact on the number of cattle available to the processors, at unchanged prices.

Last week, total slaughterings came to around 30,500 head, broadly similar to the previous several weeks. The steer supply was strong, at around 11,700, and the kill included about 8,000 heifers.

The question occupying the industry is, “Where are all the cattle coming from?” And how long can the supply be maintained at well above 2009 levels?

The weekly kill has averaged more than 3,000 head higher than 2009, with about 90,000 more cattle than in 2009 gone through the factories, to date this year.

What that suggests for the rest of the year is that supply is unlikely to hit the 40,000 head per week for very long, if at all, and processors may be under much more pressure to get sufficient cattle between September and December than is traditionally the case.

Farmers may benefit in 2010 by avoiding the usual autumn glut of cattle.

The general base quote from the factories for cattle this week is 303 to 305 cents/kg (108p to 109p/lb), with another 6 cents/kg (2p/lb) being negotiated by farmers at some plants. As usual the prices tend to be stronger outside of the southern counties, peaking in the north west.

Some prices of up to 322 cents/kg (115p/lb) have been reported from the midlands and the north west for steers purchased for this week.

The heifers continue to be worth 6 to 11 cents/kg (2p to 4p/lb) more than the steers.

The cull cow trade is steady, but the prices are back from their peaks earlier in the year. The base quotes for O and P grade cows range from 238 to 251 cents/kg (85p to 89p/lb).

In Britain, the beef market showed little change over the past week. Supplies continued to match demand levels, which are reasonable for steak cuts and topsides, and steady for forequarters and VL cuts.

Prices in Britain have been stable for R4L grade steers at Stg272.6 pence/kg, equivalent to 344 cent/kg (123p/lb).

On the Continent, there has been little change to report in the beef trade over the past week. The demand across the key markets has been holding up reasonably well.


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