Cattle Trade & Prices
Cattle & Beef
Throughput: Cattle supplies at export meat plants totaled 25,748 head during the week ending January 15th, 2022 (Week 2). Throughput figures increased by 5,108 head on the week previous, but remains almost 5,000 head less than the first week of 2021. Supply is expected to remain relatively tight for the first half of 2021. Overall throughput is expected to increase by 70-80,000 head for the year, with the majority of this increase to occur in the latter half.
A total of 59,245 head animals have been processed in 2022. This figure represents a decline of 6,000 head on 2021 and equates to a decrease of 10%.
Prices: There are signs of further optimism with regard to the prices paid by Irish meat plants, with firm market demand reported for most of the carcase cuts. In general, producers are being offered a base price on the QPS of between €4.25 and 4.30/kg for steers, with €0.05/kg more being paid for heifers. Demand for better-quality, well-fleshed cows has improved further in recent weeks, and in general quotes tend to range from €3.50-3.65/kg for P grade cows, to prices of between €3.65 and €3.80/kg for good quality O grade cows, while up to €4.00/kg is being paid for quality R grade cows.
Input costs are a particular concern among farmers currently, with feed, fertilizer, fuel and contractor costs all trending upwards in comparison with 2021.
The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending January 15th, 2022 as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €4.31/kg for R3 steers, and €4.35/kg for R3 heifers. These prices represented a slight increase on the previous week, which may be attributable to a higher proportion of animals sold by larger or contracted finishers over the Christmas period. Note that these prices exclude VAT but would include all bonuses such as for breed-based producer groups. This weekly Steer price is 52c/kg or 12% higher than the first week in 2021.
World prices: For the week ending January 15th, 2022, Global prices are strong, and across Europe, average R3 young bull prices have seen very strong growth rates over the last number of weeks to €4.48/kg excluding VAT. Irish R3 steers lie somewhat below this figure at €4.31/kg. The UK Average R3 price has also held up strongly at €4.87/kg. Australian steer prices remained similar at €4.66/kg, and are expected to remain high.
Composite prices: The Irish prime composite cattle price and the prime Export Benchmark for week ending January 15th, 2022 were both equivalent to €4.28/kg deadweight excluding VAT, and €4.12/kg, respectively.
The Irish Composite cattle price for week ending January 15th, 2022 was €4.08/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the EU export benchmark of €4.07/kg.
For the week ending January 15th, 2022 live cattle exports totalled 1,393 head according to the latest available figures from Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine. Most of which were destined for Northern Ireland, followed by Spain. Total exports for 2022 have reached 1,747 head, which is similar to the same period last year.
With strong cattle prices on the domestic market, it has been more difficult for Irish cattle to compete in key export markets. Over recent weeks, the number of cattle exported has generally trended below year-earlier levels, and these are dominated by movements of store and finished animals to Northern Ireland.
See our weekly updated market trends.