Cattle Trade & Prices
Cattle & Beef
Cattle supplies at export meat plants totaled 34,908 head during the week ended July 26th 2020, declining by over 400 head on the week previous. Throughput for week 30 was 128 head lower compared to the same week 12 months ago. Cattle throughput numbers are expected to remain tight across the country.
A total of 1,012,207 animals have been processed up to the week ending July 26th. This figure now represents a decline of 31,382 head on the corresponding period in 2019. This is now a 3% decrease in throughput for the first 30 weeks of the year compared with the same period in 2019.
Base prices being quoted for prime cattle in Ireland have seen an increase again across all cattle types. Recent shortages of prime cattle and the gradual reopening of foodservice and manufacturing channels both in Ireland and across the main export markets have seen R3 steers quotes increase to €3.75/kg with R3 heifers receiving quotes of €0.05-€0.10/kg above that. These prices exclude “in-spec” bonus payments. The average price paid for R3 steers so far this year is €3.60/kg excl. VAT, which is 10c/kg below the same period in 2019.(-3%)
Cull cow prices have remained stable in the past week, with a greater number of cows being offered to beef export plants over recent weeks as demand continues to grow. Quotes for O grade cows have also increased in the past week to range between €3.10-€3.15/kg, with R grade cows achieving prices of €3.15-€3.25/kg.
The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending July 26th 2020, as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €3.74/kg for R3 steers, and €3.76/kg for R3 heifers. Note that these prices exclude VAT but would include all bonuses such as for breed-based producer groups.
For week ending July 26th, average prices paid in Northern Ireland have seen no significant change for the past week, with R3 grade steer and heifer prices averaging £3.72/kg. These prices were equivalent to €4.10/kg excluding VAT.
Prices paid for R3 prime cattle in Britain also saw no significant change during the same week, with steer prices remaining at £3.68/kg and heifers increasing by 2p/kg to £3.68. In euro terms, these prices were equivalent to €4.05/kg excluding VAT.
Across Europe, average R3 young bull prices are equivalent to €3.49/kg excluding VAT, which is 23/kg below the average Irish R3 steer price.
The Irish composite cattle price for week ending July 26th was €3.50/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the Export benchmark price of €3.45/kg.
For the week ending July 19th, 3,300 live cattle were exported, according to the latest figures published by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Out of this total, calves accounted for approximately 900 head. Adult cattle aged over 21 months made up almost 1,300 head and the remaining 1,100 animals were comprised of weanlings and store animals.
As in previous weeks, Northern Ireland and Spain were by-far the largest destinations, accounting for approximately 1,500 and 1,100 head, respectively. Other markets for that week included Britain (291), Italy (271), the Czech Republic (181) and Romania (45).
During the equivalent week in 2019, there were just 1,800 cattle exported. For the year to-date, overall exports of live cattle from Ireland have declined by 18%, or 41,000 head, to 191,600 head. The primary reason for this decline has been fewer calves being sent to other EU markets, which have collectively fallen by 28%, or 52,000 head, to 137,000 head.
Recent analysis of the national cattle herd based on the Department of Agriculture’s AIM database shows a significant increase in the number of animals aged less than six months. Alongside the decline in calf exports, there has been an increase of 2.2% or 44,000 head in the number of calves registered for the year to-date.
See our weekly updated market trends.