Cattle prices remain level but supplies decrease

Cattle prices have continued steady but firm at factories this week, while the intake has eased slightly but remained relatively high for March.

Any change in the prices on offer from processors has come in the form of improvement at the lower end of the price range where the processors are finding it harder to source stock.

Base prices being quoted for steers range within a tighter band this week at 420-425 cents/kg (150p-152p/lb).

While there are some reports of farmers negotiating slightly better than quoted prices for better quality cattle, factory agents are slow to concede above a 425c/kg base, and most of the supply is being sourced at prices within the quoted range.

The premium for heifers over steer price has eased at some of the factories to 10c/kg.

Quoted prices for the week are in the 430-440c/kg range, and generally 435-440c/kg.

Deals are being negotiated at 445c/kg for better quality heifers, but it is very difficult to get 450c/kg.

Most processors are finding it slightly harder to source supplies, since the intake slipped under 30,000 head last week, after several weeks above that level.

The kill last week was about 29,560 head, which is strong by traditional patterns and about 4,000 head higher than the corresponding week last year.

It is well above what had been expected for early March, 2013.

The expectation is that the strong supply year to date will have an impact on supplies in April and May — when the supply could become very tight.

Cow prices have continued stable at factories this week, ranging 330-350c/kg base for O/P-grades, but the trade is strong for the better cows, with up to 380-385c/kg attainable.

The beef trade in the UK was reported generally flat last week.

But cattle prices increased slightly, with R4L grade steers averaging equivalent to 456c/kg (163p/lb), including Vat.

On the Continent, there was little change, with trading firm across most markets


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