The beef trade continues to kick on this week, with most processors moving up quotes in order to ensure cattle are heading their way.

Bullocks are being quoted at €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg, with reports of €5.30/kg being paid to secure larger loads of cattle.

Flat deals of as high as €5.70/kg are on the table this week for Aberdeen Angus heifers.

Most agents are now paying 20c/kg to 30c/kg bonus on Aberdeen Angus heifers, with 10c/kg to 15c/kg being paid for Hereford heifers.

The mart trade continues to outperform the factory trade in many instances, with factory agents willing to pay more to secure lots ringside as opposed to purchasing in yards for factories.

Factories are also quoting better money for over 30 month cattle this week with a base of €5.40/kg on the table for large numbers of over-aged cattle.

Flat deals of between €5.30/kg and €5.40/kg are also being paid for mixes of O and P grading Friesian bullocks.

All of the big four processors – Foyle, Dawn Meats, ABP and Kepak – have all commenced killing for the Chinese market, but most are playing their cards close to their chest in terms of Chinese market bonuses, with some quoting different base prices for eligible cattle.

With numbers of China eligible cattle tight on farms, the advice is to bargain hard if you have the goods they want.

Young bulls

The top price in the young bull market is €5.35/kg for U grading bulls, with €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg on the table for R grading bulls.

O and P grading bulls are being bought at €4.90/kg to €5.00/kg. Under-16-month bulls are being bought at €5.15/kg to €5.25/kg.


P+3 cows are working off €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg, with O grading cows coming in at €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg.

R grading cows are generally being quoted at €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg, with U grading cows now moving to €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg.

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

Taking a look at this week’s AGB, we see bullocks and heifers take a massive jump of between 8c and 9c/kg, showing how quickly the trade is moving.

Increase in cows

Recent data released by the Department of Agriculture shows that there has been a massive increase in the number of cows being purchased for slaughter in marts.

The data shows that in 2022, there was 130,421 animals aged over 36 months slaughtered within 30 days of being purchased in marts. This was up from 97,744 in 2021 and a more-than-doubling of the figure of 63,243 head in 2019.

There has been a big push in recent years of factory agents sourcing cows and other cattle for direct slaughter, with many farmers selling smaller numbers of cows in marts seeing better value in the mart ring as opposed to going to the factory.

Last week’s kill came in at 33,750 head – a similar number to the week before.

While the kill remains slightly ahead of the 2022 figure, numbers are expected to drop in the coming weeks as finishing cattle supplies get tighter and tighter. Listening to procurement managers, April and May appears to be the critical period they are worried about.

NI comment

There are plenty of positives to be found in the beef trade north of the border with prices on all types of stock rising.

Quotes on U3 steers and heifers is steady at 450p/kg (€5.39/kg inc VAT) but falls well short of what is being paid.

Most cattle are moving around 470p/kg (€5.62/kg) although regular finishers are commanding 5p/kg more. Beef cows are making 390p to 420p/kg (€4.67 to €5.03/kg).