R grade prices hit eight-year high

Prices for R grade cattle have hit 100p/lb at the factories — the highest March price paid for beef by processors in eight years.

Carrigan’s of Donegal Meat Processors paid an average of 99.8p/lb for R3 bullocks last week, according to official farmer pay-sheet returns.

The improvement of 1p/lb was paid by most of the factories for cattle last week with an overall average increase of slightly less than 1p/lb recorded for R3 bullocks which averaged a shade under 95p/lb.

The improvement in prices paid for R3 heifers was slightly less with a top factory price of 98.3p/lb paid, while the national average was similar to the bullocks at just 95p/lb.

Cattle supplies for the week were 2,200 head lower than the corresponding week in 2003 of which bullocks accounted for 1,800 head of the drop.

As a result cattle supplies were more expensive. Although paying up to 1p/lb more for beef, averages paid for R3 bullocks by the three major processors, AIBP Group, Dawn Group and Kepak Group were at least 0.5p/lb under the national average for the week.

AIBP plant at Clones was the only one from that group to qualify among the seven highest-paying processing centres.

Carrigans of Donegal, Bergins Moyvalley Meats, Co Kildare, Liffeys of Ballyjamesduff, Duffys of Gort, Exel at Kilbeggan and Kildare Chilling took the other top six places.

For R3 heifers, Carrigans paid an average of over 98p/lb, Kepak at Clonee paying 98p/lb and Meadow Meats, Rathdowney paying 96p/lb.

Dawn, Ballyhaunis, Liffey Meats, Ballyjames -duff, AIBP at Clones and Slaney Meats, Bunclody all paid over 95p/lb average.

Kepak at Clonee paid the highest price for cows at 84p/lb for O4H. Liffey Meats paid 82p/lb for R5 and 80p/lb for P+4H grades.

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