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LMC: Beef Trade Remains Buoyant Under Intense Demand

03 April 2013

UK - The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland reports of buoyant prices remaining in UK cattle markets with heifer values staying strong.

Deadweight Cattle Trade

The deadweight cattle trade in Northern Ireland remains buoyant with quotes of 360-366p/kg available at factories during this week. Most plants are now quoting 364-366p/kg for next week.

This means that the top in-spec quote for steers and heifers is 374p/kg. In reality higher prices are being paid for in-spec cattle with factories continuing to report tight supplies. There is a wide range of quotes for good cows (O+3 and better).

One plant is quoting 305p/kg while other factories are quoting between 275-300p/kg. In this environment farmers should be shopping around for deals given the intense competition for cattle.

Supplies of cattle in Northern Ireland remain tight. Last week’s cattle kill was the lowest for the year to date with about 7,330 head slaughtered in NI. The prime kill was two per cent lower than the previous week, but about two per cent higher than in the same week last year when factory
throughput was particularly low.

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U3 Heifer Price - 380p/kg

Last week’s reported prices reflect the ongoing increases in factory quotes. The U3 heifer price averaged 380p/kg last week - up by 3.5p/kg on the previous week. With top U-3 quotes of 364p/kg last week, this clearly demonstrates that prices in some cases are significantly ahead of quotes, even when bonuses are accounted for. The average R3 steer price was 372p/kg last week, up by 5p/kg on the previous week.

R3 heifer prices averaged 375.5p/kg - again up by 6p/kg on the previous week. Liveweight prices for finished cattle in NI remain strong, with reports of an average of 222p/kg paid in marts for steers and heifers last week.


Sharp increases in NI prices


NI prices increased at a faster rate last week than elsewhere in the UK where price increases were more measured. Across GB, the R3 steer price increased by 3p/kg on the previous week, while the R3 heifer price was up by 1.6p/kg. Price increases were slightly stronger in Southern England where the trade has performed strongly in recent weeks.

R3 steer prices in Southern England were just about 2p/kg below corresponding prices in the midlands. Scottish R3 steer prices remain about 8p/kg higher than Southern England prices and about 23p/kg higher than prices in NI. In the case of R3 heifers, the gap is not just as wide at 16p/kg.


Strong heifer prices in ROI


In ROI, prices were generally stable in sterling terms given that sterling rallied against the euro. However, this may have given ROI prices some latitude to increase in domestic terms and R3 steer and heifer prices were up by 6c/kg and 8c/kg compared to the previous week. Another feature of the trade in ROI, that is less pronounced elsewhere, is the substantial difference between steer and heifer prices. Last week’s reported prices show that R3 steer prices were almost 22c/kg lower
than R3 heifer prices.

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