They say no news is good news, except, I expect, when you’re expecting news. Two months ago as factory kill numbers started to climb, few could have foreseen the current reality that as we head into November weekly average kill numbers over the last two months have remained stubbornly over 38,600.
The only positive is that October was almost continuously dry, affording those with forward stock on the land the opportunity to feed outside.
On the price front, for the majority of grass finishers prices weekly varied only slightly throughout October, with €3.75/kg for bullocks the average base while the heifer base averaged €3.85/kg.
And so it was yesterday morning, with the majority of plants reported as paying €3.75/kg for bullocks and €3.85/kg for heifers.
If you wish to get more you will have to head to Donegal where the Foyle Meats plant at Carrigans continued last week to pay 10c/kg above those bases quoted above, before adding in their across-all-grades 12c/kg quality assurance payment, not forgetting their various bonus weight and breed payments of 10-30c/kg.
Turning to cull cow and bull quotes it is effectively as you were.
However, one agent did comment that with kill numbers staying high and this being a short week due to yesterday’s bank holiday, cows might be a “tougher sell” this week.
For the moment, however, with no concrete news to the contrary, I suspect last week’s quotes of €3.30-3.40/kg for R grade cows and €3.10-3.15 for Os should hold, as should that €2.80-3.00/kg for those better P grades.
Prices for bulls also appear to be remaining static, with last week’s €3.90-4.00/kg for under 24-month U grades seemingly unchanged over the weekend. R grades were also unmoved at €3.80-3.90/kg, with O grades back around €3.60-3.70/kg. Base prices for under 16-month bulls continued at €3.80-3.85/kg last week. The reality is that most factories had their procurement books for this week filled since late last week, meaning that getting an accurate handle on where beef prices are going won’t really be possible until Thursday.
Bord Bia figures for the week ending October 20 show that at 39,112, that week’s figures are 2,971 ahead of the same week last year.
The only consolation is that despite those higher numbers, factory prices are no worse than they were 12 months ago.
Looking at those figures in a little more detail they show the steer kill to date to be 2.3pc, or 12,865, behind that of 2017 for the same period.
However, with heifers up 6.4pc, young bulls up 7.6pc and cull cows up 7.5pc, the overall national kill is greater this year by 3.1pc, which works out at 51,557 head.
Allowing for the effect that extra 7.5pc of cull cows have had on the trade, the question I have is, how many of that 23,422 or 6.4pc increase in heifer slaughterings originated in the dairy herd?