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Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle & Beef

Cattle supplies at export meat plants totaled 37,758 head during the week ended October 17th 2020, increasing by 1,258 head on the week previous. Throughput for the same week 12 months ago was 392 head higher as meat processing plants maintained high throughput levels across the country for the remainder of 2019.

A total of 1,431,903 head of cattle have been processed up to the week ending October 17th. This figure now represents an increase of 47,267 head on the corresponding period in 2019, with throughput levels 3.4% higher so far this year. Steer throughput for the year to date has increased by 15% compared to 2019 levels.

Prices being quoted for prime cattle remained unchanged this week again at the main export meat plants. Producers are still receiving base prices of €3.60/kg and €3.65/kg for steers and heifers respectively, with some lots of higher quality cattle receiving 5c/kg above this. These prices exclude “in-spec” bonus payments. The average price paid for R3 steers so far this year is €3.62/kg excl. VAT, which is still 4c/kg below the same period in 2019.(-1%)

Prices being offered for cows in export plants have fallen by 5-10c/kg in most factories.  Quotes for O grade cows are ranging between €3.00-€3.05/kg, with good quality R grade cows achieving prices of €3.20-€3.30/kg

The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending October 17th 2020, as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €3.61/kg for R3 steers, and €3.65/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 October 17th, average prices paid in Northern Ireland have seen no changes in the past 7 days, with R3 grade steer quotes remaining at £3.67/kg and R3 heifer quotes remaining at £3.68/kg. These prices were equivalent to €4.05/kg and €4.06/kg respectively, excluding VAT.
Prices paid for R3 prime cattle in Britain saw an increase in the week, with both steer and heifer prices rising to £3.77/kg and £3.75/kg respectively. In euro terms, these prices were equivalent to €4.16/kg and €4.14/kg excluding VAT. (€1=£0.9060)

Across Europe, average R3 young bull prices are equivalent to €3.53/kg excluding VAT, which is 8/kg below the average Irish R3 steer price.

The Irish composite cattle price for week ending October 17th was €3.39/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the Export benchmark price of €3.42/kg.


Live Exports

Live cattle exports continue to run below the equivalent period in 2019. For the week ending October 10th, live cattle exports reached 4,413 head according to the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.  

 The movement of cattle to Northern Ireland has continued to perform strongly over recent weeks, with 1,409 head traveling north during the week ending October 10th. This included a combination of calves and store cattle for further feeding, along with finished cattle. For the year to date, live exports of prime cattle for direct slaughter to Northern Ireland have increased by nearly 4,000 head, with over 12,000 animals exported to NI for processing. Overall, live exports of cattle to Northern Ireland have increased by 24,500 head so far this year. (+98%) 

For the year up to the week ending October 10th, overall exports have declined by 13%, or 34,075 head, to 229,206 head. The primary reason for this decline has been fewer calves being sent to other EU markets, which have collectively fallen by over 27%, or 52,851 head, to 141,013 head. In particular, the calf trade to the Netherlands has fallen by 34,539 head (-41%).  

Live Exports to international markets in 2020 have seen a 25% increase so far this year, which has offset the decline in intra-community trade of calves. The main export destinations include Libya, Turkey, Algeria and Kazakhstan.

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