Strong start to 2006 for beef prices

Marts: There has been a very strong start to the year on beef prices with an average of over 104p/lb being paid by the factories for R-grade animals - and almost 110p/lb for U-grade - for the first week of operation in 2006.

The margin between factories for similar grade animals has tightened, with the top price paid for R4L bullocks slightly more 1p/lb above the average for the grade and the highest individual factory average less than 2p/lb above the national average.

The strong export market has been underlined by the factory demand for cattle resulting in a kill of 22,415 head for the first week of 2006 compared to 5,906 head during the opening week of 2005.

Demand for bullocks was particularly strong with a kill of 9,739 head, compared to 1,653 head during the same week last year. The heifer intake was up from 2,367 head last year to 7,310 head this year.

A top price of almost 110p/lb for U-grade was paid at Moyvalley Meats, while an average of just over 104p/lb ruled for R4L bullocks and heifers last week. The best for the R4L bullocks was 105.5p/lb at Donegal Meats - the only factory paying over 105p/lb - with most processors paying some margin over 104p/lb. Euro Foods, Dawn at Ballaghadereen, AIBP at Clones, Jennings of Ballinrobe were all on averages of 104.8p/lb and Exel Meats at 104.5p/lb. The average for O4L bullocks was just over 102p/lb.

Heifer prices were marginally stronger at the top. The highest factory average was 106p/lb at Kepak, Clonee. Slaney Meats, Donegal Meats, and Liffeys all beat 105p/lb while Duffy’s, AIBP at Waterford and Clones and Dawn, Ballaghadereen a fraction under 105p/lb.

O4L heifers averaged 102p/lb.

Euro Farm Foods led the way for cows at over 95p/lb for R4H grade, almost 90p/lb for O4L and over 86p/lb for P+4H. Other factories paying strong prices for O-grade cows included Moyvalley Meats, Co Kildare, Kepak, Clonee, and Dawn Meats, Ballyhaunis.

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