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Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle & Beef

Cattle supplies at export meat plants totaled 31,990 head during the week ended January 16th 2021, decreasing by 1,029 head on the week previous as supplies in export plants tighten. Throughput levels for the past week were 2,609 head below the throughput level of the opening week of 2020.

A total of 65,009 head of cattle have been processed for the first 2 weeks of the year. This figure represented an increase of 1,868 head on the corresponding period in 2020.

Prime cattle quotes in Irish export meat plants have seen further increases in the past 7 days, with demand remaining strong for quality, “in spec” cattle, driven by strong demand in the retail sector. Quotes have increased by 5c/kg across the board, with the majority of steers trading off a base of €3.80/kg and heifers €3.85/kg. Some producers are securing 5-10c/kg higher in some instances, pushing base prices up to €3.90/kg. These prices exclude “in-spec” bonus payments. The average price paid for R3 steers in 2020 was €3.63/kg excl. VAT, which was 2c/kg above average price paid in 2019.

Prices being offered for cows in export plants have remained steady in the past week as demand increases. Cull cow supply was strong in 2020, with throughput 4.7% higher than in 2019, and this trend is continuing into 2021. Quotes for O grade cows are ranging between €3.10-€3.20/kg, with good quality R grade cows achieving prices of €3.30-€3.40 /kg.

The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending January 16th 2021, as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €3.79/kg for R3 steers, and €3.84/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 January 16th, average prices paid in Northern Ireland have seen some change in the past 7 days, with R3 grade steer prices rising to £3.82/kg and heifer quotes also rising to £3.84/kg. These prices were equivalent to €4.28/kg and €4.30/kg respectively, excluding VAT.
Prices paid for R3 prime cattle in Britain saw a slight increase in the past week, with steer & heifer prices increasing to £3.82/kg respectively. In euro terms, these prices were equivalent to €4.28/kg excluding VAT. (€1=£0.8932)

Across Europe, average R3 young bull prices are equivalent to €3.66/kg excluding VAT, which is 13/kg below the average Irish R3 steer price.

The Irish composite cattle price for week ending January 16th was €3.55/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the Export benchmark price of €3.50/kg.

Live Exports

Live cattle exports in 2021 have started off slowly, given the new regulations that have come into effect in the wake of Britain formally leaving the EU on December 31st. For the week ending January 16th live cattle exports reached 837 head according to the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.  

The movement of cattle to Northern Ireland has continued to perform strongly with 768 head traveling north during the week ending January 16th. This included a combination of calves and store cattle for further feeding, along with 164 animals for direct slaughter.  In 2020, live exports of prime cattle for direct slaughter to Northern Ireland increased by 8,300 head, with over 21,000 animals exported to NI for processing.

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