Processors are increasingly anxious about the availability of finished cattle, with the Easter period and the re-opening of food service outlets in Britain both expected to generate a surge in demand.
While local processors are managing to keep a lid on the trade, higher prices are being offered to regular finishers to secure supplies.
Despite base quotes remaining unchanged on 370p/kg, prices paid start around the 378p to 382p/kg mark for U-3 grades.
Those selling cattle on a regular arrangement report that deals of 386p to 388p/kg are more common than in recent weeks. At the upper end, finishers with bigger numbers of in-spec cattle are getting prices into the low the 390’s.
Prices in Britain are also edging upwards with some plants in Scotland up 8p to 390p/kg for R4L grading animals.
In the marts throughput of slaughter fit and short keep stores has tailed off.
With competition strong among buyers, U-grading type steers and heifers continue to make 220p to 240p/kg.
Cattle with lower conformation are selling for 180p to 210p/kg depending on quality with cull cows making 160p to 190p/kg for well-fleshed animals.
While the beef trade looks positive for the spring, feed prices are expected to rise again next month leaving many finishers scrutinising closely the economics of intensive finishing.