Up to 140 extra vets will be needed from April 1 to certify beef exports to UK

Beef market report
Up to 140 extra vets will be needed from April 1 to certify beef exports to UK

At Dowra Mart in Co Cavan last Saturday, this Limousin bull of 875kg sold for €1,530.

There is further slight recovery from the recent decline in beef cattle prices at factories.

However, quoted prices continue to fall short of what finishers were paid a month ago, and profit margins for winter finishers remain squeezed.

The intake at processing plants continues to fall well short of 2020 levels.

For January and February, intake is down by 30,000 head, compared to 2020.

The Bord Bia prediction for the year is that the supply of beef cattle will be at least down by 60,000 head.

With the full impact of Brexit on the trade with Britain still very unclear, the expected drop in supplies should help finishers, by strengthening the market for finished cattle.

Another phase of the new regulations for export of beef to the UK will come into effect at the end of this month, adding further to the costs of exports.

The additional herd health certification required from April 1 is seen as as a big challenge for the export trade to handle.

The Department of Agriculture estimates that an additional 130-140 vets will be required to handle the extra workload, and sourcing sufficient personnel could be a challenge.

Therefore, disruption at a normal peak point of the spring beef season cannot be completely ruled out.

For the current week, prime beef prices appear to have improved by at least 5c/kg, recovering some of the price decline since January.

However, the usual 5c-10c/kg premium for heifers over the steer price has been wiped out, with a similar price base for both steers and heifers quoted this week.

Steer prices are generally being quoted at 375c/kg.

Most of the intake for this week is going through at that level, but with a few reports of up to 380c/kg being secured.

Heifer prices are generally also at 375c/kg, but with sellers of some lots securing up to 380c/kg, and it is difficult to get above that.

Prices on offer for young bulls has come to within 5c/kg of the steer and heifer prices, at 370c/kg on offer for R-grade young bulls this week.

Cow prices are also slightly stronger, with Rs making up to 340c/kg.

Intake at the factories last week was 33,666 head, made up of 10,988 steers, 9,362 heifers, 2.869 young bulls, and 6,701 cows.

Bord Bia says live cattle exports picked up in mid-February, despite bad weather for travel by sea.

The movement of cattle to Northern Ireland has continued to perform strongly into 2021, and is expected to remain strong, as cattle prices are higher in the North.

For the first six weeks of 2021, live exports of cattle were back by only 1% compared to the same period 12 months ago, with 14,059 head of cattle exported out of Ireland, of which 50% went to Northern Ireland.

The intra-EU trade of Irish dairy calves has started to pick up, with weather conditions improved for shipping.

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