Cows remain the top choice for a lot of factory agents this week, as prices continue to hold steady and improve in some locations.

Demand for manufacturing beef has increased, with all indoor dining restrictions lifted and a long-awaited return to normal trading resumes.

This will see a spike in demand in the coming weeks for all types of cuts, with manufacturing beef being in particular demand.

On the back of tight supplies, this will see beef prices kick on in the coming weeks.

Cow operators

A number of specialised cow operators are still very active to secure supplies, with €4.00/kg to €4.10/kg being paid for good R grading cows. U grading cows are trading 10c/kg higher.

O grading cows are coming in at €3.75/kg to €3.85/kg. Better suckler O grades are pushing into €3.90/kg if part of a load.

P+3 cows are being quoted at €3.65/kg to €3.75/kg, with lighter cows lacking flesh coming in at around €3.55/kg.

Top-quality heavy cows (over 800kg) are making the equivalent of €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg in marts, with a lot of agents and NI customers competing for suitable factory-fit cows.


Heifer prices continue to hover around the €4.35/kg mark. I have heard of some factories stretching out to €4.40/kg for the more regular suppliers.

Donegal Meats is still out in front with its base price quote of €4.45/kg for heifers killing out between 300kg and 400kg dead.

Bullocks are still being quoted around the €4.25/kg to €4.30/kg mark, with Donegal Meats again taking the top spot with its quote of €4.40/kg for bullocks killing out between 300kg and 400kg dead.

Aberdeen Angus and Hereford premiums of between 10c and 25c/kg are available for in-spec stock.

Over-30-month cattle are also attracting a little more interest in the last couple of weeks, with base prices of between €4.25/kg and €4.40/kg being paid for bullocks and heifers.

Every trick in the book

Factories are back to trying every trick in the book other than move off the quoted base price.

Haulage, no weight limits, flat prices and no clipping charges are all in the mix this week for different clients.

Bulls are in demand, with a number of factories now paying out at €4.40/kg for under-24-month U grading bulls, with €4.30/kg on the table for R grading bulls.

Some factories are paying €4.10/kg for mixtures of O and P black and white bulls. Under-16-month bulls are still working off €4.25/kg on the grid in the main.


Last week’s kill came in at just under 34,000. There were 600 extra cows killed last week compared with the previous week.

Interestingly, the young bull kill hit 4,279 head, the highest kill of young bulls since January 2020 and almost 1,000 more than was killed for the same week in 2020.

Could a change in sentiment from factories be on the cards?

NI comment

Prices for finished cattle are holding firm in Northern Ireland, with base quotes unchanged on 394p/kg (€5/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals.

However, quotes are not reflective of the prices being paid for prime cattle.

Most reports put steers moving off farm from 406p to 408p/kg (€5.15 to €5.18/kg), with heifers generally priced around 410p/kg (€5.20/kg).

Higher prices are mainly for finishers with bigger numbers to offer.

Young bulls are a slower trade and farmers are finding it harder to negotiate for prices beyond base quotes.

Cull cows are a positive trade. Base quotes remain on 290p/kg (€3.68/kg) although deals are more typically 320p/kg (€4.06/kg).