Irish farmers are now being paid more for R3 heifers than farmers in the UK, recent figures from the European Commission show.
During the week ending April 17, Irish R3 heifers made 400.4c/kg, while heifers slaughtered in the UK sold for 399.2c/kg. This means that a 300kg R3 heifer carcass is €3.60 dearer in Ireland than the UK.
Two weeks ago, the price gap between Irish and UK R3 heifers narrowed to just under 1c/kg, as the UK heifer price declined on the back of higher supplies.
But, the difference seen last week was mainly due to a 1.9c/kg rise in Irish R3 heifer price, as the UK heifer price has remained unchanged.
The UK is a significant market for Irish beef, as it took 52% of the beef exported from Ireland last year, according to Bord Bia.
But, the closeness of the Irish and UK heifer price is likely to have an impact on the quantity of beef exported to the UK this year.
Speaking at a recent livestock seminar, Bord Bia’s Joe Burke said that Irish exports to the UK have already dropped due to the narrow beef price gap caused by the weaker Sterling.
Burke said that the weaker Sterling is making Irish cattle more expensive in the UK.
Figures from the European Commission also show that Northern Irish R3 heifers are still cheaper than R3 heifers slaughtered south of the border.
During the week ending April 17, Northern Irish R3 heifers made 382.04c/kg, with the price unchanged from the week previous.
Three weeks ago, the price difference between a 300kg R3 heifer slaughtered either side of the border was €22, but due to a fall in the Northern Irish price, this has been almost €45 for the last two weeks.
Meanwhile on the Continent, data from the European Commission shows that the Italian R3 heifer price has dropped again by a further 13c/kg. This follows a 10c/kg drop two weeks ago.