It’s remarkable what a little bit of sunshine can do. It’s lifted the mood of the country, lifted the mood of farmers and it’s also lifted the mood of the country’s factory procurement managers.

There is a marked change of positivity in the air this week, with all factories eager for stock and no chat of the “downward pressure” or “uncertainty in the market” that usually dominates the conversation.

Bullocks continue to trade off €4.10/kg ot €4.15/kg. Factories are quoting €4.10/kg, but generally paying €4.15/kg when pushed.

It’s a similar story for heifers, with quotes of €4.15/kg, but generally paying €4.20/kg when pushed.

Under-16-month bulls are a little livelier, with a few more factories having to pay €4.15/kg to get them. There are still a few managing to buy bulls at €4.10/kg.

Under-24-month bulls are also going well, with €4.25/kg generally being quoted for U grades and €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg for R grading bulls.

I have heard of €4.30/kg being paid for U grades where bigger numbers were involved.

The cow trade is also steady, with factories still competing very strongly for finished cows in marts.

Good R grade cows are generally being quoted at €3.70/kg to €3.80/kg, with suckler O grades working off €3.60/kg to €3.70/kg.

Friesian O grading cows are back at €3.50/kg, with P grades generally working off €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg, depending on flesh and cover.

Foyle Meats has paid €4.25/kg base price for heifers this week, once heifers are killing between 300kg and 380kg.

Factories have managed a reduced supply of cattle with impeccable precision and last week’s kill has come in yet again at just over 31,000 for the third week in a row.

Speaking to agents on the ground, this week is somewhat of a turning point, in that the last of the shed cattle are now killed on farms.

Factories will likely now turn to their own feedlots and larger finishers to underpin supply.

These larger finishers had been issued riding instructions as far back as last October to have cattle ready for May/June time and with that certainty in their back pocket, they have remained very strong around mart rings, buying stores and forward store cattle.

Last week’s kill came in at 31,229 excluding veal slaughtering, up just 153 head on the previous week’s kill of 31,036.

Cows saw the biggest drop of 641 head, down to 7,167 head, which is still a big cow kill for the time of year.

The heifer kill went up 409 head to 8,500, while the bullock kill went up a similar amount of 561 head on the week before. The young bull kill was at 3,506, down just 49 head on the week before.

This year’s kill is currently running 31,500 behind last year’s kill.

The kill is expected to tighten much further, with Bord Bia estimating earlier this year that the 2021 kill could be back as much as 80,000 by the end of the year.

NI comment

In Northern Ireland, the trade remains very firm, with demand outstripping supply as finished cattle get tighter.

Prime cattle are opening at 390p/kg (€4.78/kg incl VAT) with as high as 400p/kg (€4.91/kg) being paid for larger loads of cattle.

Prices across the water have eased a little in the last few weeks, but are still trading well ahead of Irish prices.

For the week ending 29 May, R4L steers averaged 406p/kg (€4.98/kg).