Steers and heifers 110p, cows 100p

ANOTHER benchmark in beef prices was reached as 308 cents/kg (110p/lb) for R grade steers and heifers became achievable for many producers in the midlands and north west of the country, after factory prices continued to rise this week.

In the south, where the supply of cattle is strongest, prices continued to trail the leaders by 6 to 9 cents/kg (2p or 3p/lb).

But prices paid in all regions were 2 or 3 cents/kg up on last week as the consistent upward price trend continued.

Prices being paid for O grade are ranging from 296 to 302 cents/kg (106p to 108p/lb), with some farmers securing deals for mixed lots of mainly quality grading cattle at flat prices of 302 to 308 cents/kg (108p to 110p/lb).

From a pre-Easter high of nearly 20,000 steers per week supplied to the factories, intake slipped over the past two short working weeks.

But there are signs that the supply has been on the increase again, with farmers who had targeted the benchmark of 308 cents/kg (110p/lb) selling at the improved rate.

The market for beef is continuing very strong in the UK, where the supply limitations on cheaper imports are benefiting farmers on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Although intake levels would be regarded as strong for this time of the year, processors are still anxious for all the cattle they can get, which remains the driving force behind rising prices.

There is no indication of any change in the pattern of supply, at least not until June, when the current EU ban on imports from Brazilian states affected by foot and mouth disease is due to be reviewed ( a new FMD case was confirmed there last week).

The market in Britain is very firm, with prices to farmers making further slight gains, as they continue close to par with the Irish prices. Markets in France and Italy are reported to be quiet and in Germany the supply is reported as tight, and prices holding. Another good sign for the beef trade is the price for cows at the Irish factories hitting a new level this week, with 280 cents/kg (100p/lb) being paid for good quality cows.

Base prices for O and P grades are ranging from 92p to 96p/lb. The intake of cows at the factories for the year to date is up 32% on the same period last year, and the current weekly intake is running 10 to 15% higher than the same time last year.

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