Factory agents continue to fight hard to get enough finished cattle, with a lot of heated exchanges taking place in mart rings and farmers’ yards during the week.

Side deals and special quotes are being given in a lot of cases, with factory agents being given a lot of leeway to go off scripted quotes to get cattle this week.

There’s 5c to 10c/kg more going than quoted prices in a lot of cases.

This has seen some record prices being paid in marts this week for factory-fit cattle, with appetite for heavy suckler cows being particularly strong over the last seven days.

Bullocks continue to be quoted at €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg base price, which is on a similar footing to last week’s quotes.

Flat deals

Flat deals continue to be put on the table from factories ranging from €5.35/kg for Friesian bullocks to €5.70/kg for Aberdeen Angus heifers.

Heifers are working off a base of €5.30/kg in the main, with €5.35/kg being paid to those dealing with larger numbers and more regular suppliers.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, is offering a base price of €5.20/kg for bullocks and a base price of €5.25/kg for heifers. It is also offering a bonus of 10c/kg for carcases weighing between 300kg and 400kg.

The advice is to bargain very hard. If you have numbers, you are in the driving seat and use that power to command the best price.

It’s factory business to buy cattle as cheap as they can, but it’s your business to sell them for the highest possible price. Adopt a ruthless streak and take no prisoners in the next few weeks.

Young bulls

The top price in the young bull market is €5.40/kg for U grading bulls, with €5.20/kg to €5.30/kg on the table for well-fleshed R grading bulls.

P and O grading bulls are being bought at €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg. Under-16-month bulls are being bought at €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg base price on the grid.


P+3 cows are working off €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg, with O grading cows coming in at €4.60/kg to €4.80/kg.

R grading cows are generally being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg, with U grading cows now moving to €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg.

There are lots of deals on the table to get good cows, with R grading cows being bought at U grading prices in some instances.

A number of wholesalers have been very active over the last few weeks sourcing factory-fit cows in marts, with some paying the equivalent of €5.80/kg to €5.90/kg for good-quality cows.

Good heavy cows have been hitting over €3/kg in marts over the last week, with a lot of smaller farmers opting now to sell in the mart as opposed to the factory route.

Last week’s kill came in at 34,870, which was up 1,00o head on the previous week.

The current 2023 kill is up 2.5% on 2022 levels, which is bucking the forecasted trend of a downward shift of 5% to 6% in cattle supplies for quarter one of 2023.

With only two months left in quarter one, it’s going to take a big swing downwards to come in with a 5% reduction.

Factories are using cows to underpin supplies, with 26% of last week’s kill coming in as cows, compared with 22% for the same week in 2022.

Northern comment

Factory quotes have jumped by as much as 10p/kg this week to 460p/kg (€5.51/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals.

But as quotes increase, so are price deals on steers and heifers. Most reports indicate 470p to 478p/kg (€5.63 to €5.73/kg) is buying in-spec animals this week, with the higher prices paid to regular finishers with bigger numbers. Cull cows are a flying trade with R grading animals on 400p/kg to 420p/kg (€4.79/kg to €5.03/kg).