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NI beef trade: ‘Steady’ supplies of cattle available

Base quotes from the major beef processing plants in NI range from 326- 334p/kg for in spec U-3 grading prime cattle this week with similar quotes expected for early next week, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission.

The plants, the LMC said, have indicated steady supplies of cattle available for slaughter to meet demand for beef.

The cow trade is “holding steady” with quotes from the local plants ranging from 230-250p/kg for good quality O+3 grading cows.

“The majority of local processors are quoting in the region of 240-245p/kg with similar quotes expected for early next week.”

Kill data

Due to the Christmas holidays, there was a reduced cattle kill last week with 3,707 prime cattle slaughtered, bringing the total prime cattle kill for 2019 to 344,671 head – a 2.3 per cent increase from 2018 levels when 336,991 prime cattle were killed locally.

“This increase in prime cattle throughput has coincided with an increase in average carcase weights.”

During 2019. the average prime cattle carcase weight was 343.5kg, up 7.1kg or 2.1 per cent from 2018 levels.

“The combination of increased prime cattle throughput and higher carcase weights has resulted in 4.4 per cent increase in the volume of beef from prime cattle handled by local processors.”

The cow kill in local plants last week was 834 head which takes total throughput for 2019 to 99,321 head. This is a decline of 4,212 head or 4.1 per cent from 2018 levels.

There has also been an increase in the average cow carcase weight in NI which has offset this decline in throughput. The average cow carcase weight in NI during 2019 was 307.8kg, up from 300.1kg in 2018. This increase by 7.7kg represents a 2.6 per cent increase year on year.

Prices 

The deadweight trade for prime cattle “continued to firm” in NI last week with an R3 steer price of 342.8p/kg, up 3.9p/kg from the previous week; this brings the R3 steer price to its highest recorded level since early June this year and puts it 1.6p/kg higher than the GB average.

The R3 heifer price followed a similar trend in NI last week, increasing by 4.1p/kg to 342.5p/kg.

There was a small price reported kill of young bulls in NI last week with the R3 price back marginally from the previous week to 328.3p/kg.

The deadweight cow trade has also been holding steady in NI with an O3 cow price last week of 251.5p/kg, up marginally from the previous week.

The O3 cow price in NI remains higher than all the GB regions and is 14.2p/kg above the average GB price.

ROI

“The R3 steer price in ROI last week was the equivalent of 304.9/kg; this is 37.9p/kg behind the equivalent price in NI which puts the differential in the value of a 350kg carcase at £133.”

“The R3 heifer price in ROI last week was the equivalent of 312p/kg which was 30.5p/kg behind the equivalent price in NI.”

This, the LMC outlined, puts the differential on a 320kg heifer carcase between the two regions at £98.

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