There is a well-established belief, at least among the older beef farmers, that cull cow prices are a barometer for prime beef, and many experienced cattle men firmly believe there is a correlation that should not be ignored.
The supply of cows is strong, and the difficulties in the dairy sector could add to cow culling this year.
Factory quotes for cows have been reduced by 5-10 cents/kg this week.
The O/P-grade cows are ranging from 310 to 320 cents/kg in general. A little more is being paid for better quality O-grade cows in some parts of the country.
The demand is best for the Rs, as usual, at up to 340 cents/kg, or up to 345 cents/kg for the heavier cows.
The base for steers remains steady at 405 cents/kg at most of the factories, with a few cents more being secured in hard dealing.
Some processors in northern counties quote 410 cents/kg, but are resisting any pressure for a further top-up on this price.
Heifers remain at a premium of 5-10 cents/kg over steer prices, ranging from 410 to 420 cents/kg.
Bank holidays always affect the supply to processing plants, and last week was no exception.
However, there are some reports from around the country are that a few animals off grass are beginning to turn up at the factories.
The intake last week slipped to 27,600, down about 700 head from the previous week.
It’s notable that the young bulls are running more than 1,200 per week up on last year.
There is better news for finishers in Britain, where the improvement in prices is continuing.
The average price for R4L-grade steers has improved by 1.5p/kg to Stg 332p/kg. In euro terms, the British steer price is now equivalent to about 444 cents/kg (when VAT is included).
Prices being paid in Northern Ireland continue to trail Britain.
The R3 steer price there equates to 426 cents/kg (when VAT is included), with the euro at 78.5p.
Overall the UK beef market is described as steady, with prime cattle there in relatively short supply.
In France, there continues to be an abundance of both domestic and German product on the market.
Recent bad weather and flooding have not had too negative an impact on meat consumption, with reasonable demand reported for beef.
However, sales of striploins and rumps for the barbecue season have yet to really take off . In Italy, the beef market continues to be impacted by falling consumption rates.