Most quotes for bullocks remain at €3.80/kg this week.

There are some factories paying €3.85/kg to larger finishers to secure supplies.

Some factories are also paying €3.85/kg across the board for mixed loads of bullocks and heifers.

Heifer quotes are working generally off €3.85/kg, with €3.90 being paid to regular customers and those with numbers.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, continues to be top of the pile, with quotes of €3.85/kg plus €0.10kg for carcases killing out between 300-380kg for heifers with a €3.80/kg base quote for bullocks available.

Bull demand is good, with €3.80-€3.85/kg being paid for R grading bulls, while U grading bulls are moving at €3.90-€3.95/kg. Under-16-month bulls are being quoted at €3.80-€3.85/kg base.

The cow trade has seen the biggest increase this week, with factories hungry for cow supplies. Over the past few weeks, all of the main factory players have been very active in mart rings around the country hoovering up lorry loads of cows at sales for direct slaughter the following day.

Cow price

With numbers of dry cows starting to dry up in marts, this has meant the cow price has had to increase to secure supplies.

P grading cows have moved to €3.15/kg in some factories, with more going if there are numbers of well-fleshed cows involved. That’s an improvement of 5c/kg on last week’s quotes.

O grading cows have also kicked on, with €3.25-€3.35/kg being paid for good-quality O grades.

R grades have also improved, with between €3.50/kg and €3.65/kg being paid for good-quality well-fleshed suckler-bred cows.

British trade

In Britain, prices continue to improve, with the latest market update from AHDB putting R4L steers at £390.5p/kg (€4.82/kg including VAT).

Speaking to some larger finishers in Britain this week, in-spec Aberdeen Angus steers are currently being paid out at £4.10/kg (€5.09/kg) including VAT. All categories of cattle have improved in price over the last seven to 10 days, with retail demand for Easter driving the trade.

Moving further afield, beef prices in Brazil are surging, with the currency there also strengthening over recent weeks.

The equivalent reported price this week is €3.10/kg, with more being paid for cattle eligible for export to the EU and China.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said factories are dragging their heels in reflecting the true value of the market and the 5c/kg weekly price increases are falling short of where the market is at.

He added: “Supermarket demand for beef will strengthen further for Easter and with supplies extremely tight, factories must increase prices paid to farmers to bring them in line with the Bord Bia published export tracker price.”

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, factory agents are showing a greater appetite for prime cattle this week.

Plants have increased base quotes by 2p to 374p/kg (€4.58/kg) for U-3 grading animals.

However, with supplies tightening, prices are slowly edging upwards.

Steers are moving at 382p/kg to 384p/kg (€4.68/kg to €4.70/kg) with heifers moving at 386p/kg to 388p/kg (€4.73 to €4.76/kg) with higher prices for regular finishers with bigger numbers.

Deals are also widely available on cull cows, with good-quality suckler types making 300p to 320p/kg (€3.67 to €3.92/kg).