Ploughing likely to affect beef intake

THE weekly kill at the factories has increased slightly, although substantially trailing 2008, and the prices are for the most part stable.

Some of the processors were finding intake tighter for the opening days of this week, which is not unusual for the week of the National Ploughing Championships, when many farmers take a few days off to attend the major annual agricultural event.

Nonetheless, processors remain reluctant to concede any increase in prices, unless forced to do so by pressure to get in additional cattle.

Processors in the southern counties continue to pay 3 to 6 cents/kg (1p or 2p/lb) less than those in the east and the midlands, and seem reluctant to top-up those quotes.

The general run across the south is 274 to 289 cents/kg (98p to 103p/lb) for R and O grade steers. There is a lot of reaction from farmers to the O grade price at 274 cents/kg (98p/lb), and in general they are negotiating 277 cents/kg (99p/lb), and some are getting 280 cents/kg (100p/lb).

Moving east and to the midlands, 280 to 291 cents/kg (100p to 104p/lb) is the general quote for R and O grades, with suppliers of good quality cattle able to deal for a shade over that.

Most processors are willing to pay 3 to 6 cents/kg (1p or 2p/lb) more for heifers, and farmers selling good quality heifers are in a strong position to bargain for more.

Intake last week increased by just over 700 head — compared to the previous week — to 33,758 head, which was 4,300 head less than the same week in 2008.

Within the intake, the number of steers remained at around 13,000 head, and there were 7,500 heifers, roughly the same as the previous week.

There has been very little change in the cow trade this week. Base prices for O and P grade cows are being quoted at up to 229 cents/kg (82p/lb). The top prices being paid for these cows are ranging up to 243 cents/kg (86p/lb). The heavy R grade cows are making up to 263 cents/kg (94p/lb) at the top of the trade.

There has been some improvement in the beef trade in Britain, where a gradual increase in consumer demand is continuing. The best trade is reported for round cuts while demand for steak cuts has firmed. Forequarter cuts continue to make gains, as demand picks up seasonally.

Prices have eased very slightly to average the equivalent of 335 cents/kg (120p/lb) including VAT, for the R4 steers, which is substantially over the prices being paid to Irish farmers.

On the Continent, demand for beef in the principal markets has improved somewhat while the autumn beef promotional campaign for Irish beef has commenced and is expected to give the trade further boost.


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