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Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle & Beef

Cattle supplies at export meat plants totaled 32,124 head during the week ended April 3rd, decreasing by 876 head on the week previous, with processing plants operating for 4 days on account of Good Friday. Prime cattle throughput also decreased by 1,174 head on the previous week, with supplies of prime cattle currently running 13.1% lower than they were 12 months ago. Throughput levels for the past week were 4,477 head below the throughput level of the same week in 2020.

A total of 418,582 head of cattle have been processed in the first 13 weeks of 2021. This figure represents a decline of 60,653 head on the corresponding period in 2020 (-12.66%). Heifer throughput has decreased by 13.7%, whilst steer throughput is back 7.9% on the same period 12 months ago.

Over the last week, quotes for finished cattle have seen improvements of 5c/kg across most export meat plants, as they attempt to secure lots of quality cattle. All factories are currently paying a base price of €3.85/kg for steers, with heifers trading 5c/kg above that in majority of meat plants. Producers with larger numbers and regular supply are securing deals €0.05/kg above that and even more in some cases.

Prices being offered for cull cows in meat export plants remain continue to increase as the appetite for good quality cull cows remains strong. Quotes for P grade cows are ranging between €3.20-€3.25/kg, with good quality O grade cows achieving prices of €3.25-€3.35/kg. R grading cows are receiving quotes of €3.45-€3.60/kg and maybe slightly more in some cases depending on carcass quality and demand.

The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending April 3rd as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €3.86/kg for R3 steers, and €3.91/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 April 3rd, average prices paid in Northern Ireland have seen further change in the past 7 days, with R3 grade steer prices increasing to £3.86/kg and heifer quotes also increasing to £3.87/kg. These prices were equivalent to €4.53/kg and €4.54/kg respectively, excluding VAT.
Prices paid for R3 prime cattle in Britain saw further changes in the past week, with steer prices increasing to £4.03/kg and heifers increasing to £4.02/kg. In euro terms, these prices were equivalent to €4.73/kg and €4.72/kg respectively, excluding VAT. (€1=£0.8523)
Across Europe, average R3 young bull prices are equivalent to €3.76/kg excluding VAT, which is 10c/kg lower than the Irish R3 steer price.

The Irish composite cattle price for week ending April 3rd was €3.64/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the Export benchmark price of €3.77/kg.


Live Exports

For the week ending April 3rd, live cattle exports reached 11,627 head according to the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.  

For the first 13 weeks of 2021, the number of animals exported is running 5% behind the same period 12 months ago, with 97,330 head of cattle being exported out of Ireland.

The intra-community trade of Irish dairy calves has remained steady again this week, with 9,785 calves exported to Continental Europe. However, the calf export season has gotten off to a very difficult start in 2021 with 70,093 calves leaving Ireland in the first three months of this year. This is a 10% decline from the 78,026 calves exported in the same period in 2020 and 22 per cent behind the same period in 2019.

The movement of cattle to Northern Ireland has continued to perform strongly with 1,733 head traveling north during the week ending April 3rd. This included a combination of calves and store cattle for further feeding, along with 305 animals for direct slaughter. 23% of cattle exports so far this year have been to Northern Ireland. The live exports of animals to Northern Ireland for direct slaughter is expected to remain strong as prices remain more favourable in NI compared to the south.

Live cattle exports to Northern Ireland are running 106% higher compared to the same time 12 months ago, with over 22,400 head exported so far this year.

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