Finished cattle are still in demand in factories around the country, with heifers still commanding the top price in the market at a €3.80/kg base.

Some factories are still managing to buy heifers at €3.75/kg, but hard sellers have been able to get the higher price.

Steers are steady at €3.75/kg, with some factories quoting €3.70kg but paying the higher price when pushed.

Hereford and Angus cattle remain the breed of choice at the moment for procurement managers, with premiums of up to 20c/kg for the right type of animals going.

Factories have also been prepared to pay as high as €4.15/kg flat for these type of cattle to secure loads.

Factories have been killing large numbers of their own feedlot cattle in the last two weeks to boost supplies.

Bulls continue to trade at €3.75/kg for R grades and €3.80/kg for U grading bulls. Young bulls are being quoted at €3.65/kg to €3.70/kg, depending on quality and numbers.

Heavy bulls and out-of-spec bulls are being sought by some factories to fill special orders.

Cows continue to be in demand, with P grading cows now at €3.00/kg, O grading cows quoted at €3.10 and good R grading cows making €3.30/kg and over it in some cases.

The mart ring is still the best place for fat cows, with a number of northern- and southern-based wholesalers active around rings in the past week. Factory agents are also paying way in excess of factory quotes for good young cows in marts.

Last week’s kill came in at 34,449, a drop of 2,015 head on the previous week’s kill of 36,464. The heifer kill saw the biggest drop, with 922 fewer heifers killed this week compared with last week. The drop in the kill is reflective of the tightness in supply of finished cattle at the moment.


A total of 1,687,908 head of cattle have been processed up to the week ending 4 December.

This figure represents an increase of 33,332 head on the corresponding period in 2019, with throughput levels 2.4% higher so far this year. Steer throughput for the year to date has increased by 10.4% compared with 2019 levels, with heifer throughput increasing by 2.1%. The young bull kill continues to fall, with 66,778 fewer young bulls killed in 2020 compared with 2019 or a 33.7% fall in the young bull kill.

According to Bord Bia, the Irish composite cattle price for week ending 28 November was €3.43/kg deadweight, excluding VAT, compared with the export benchmark price of €3.47/kg.

Exports of cattle to NI for direct slaughter fell to 298 last week, down from 441 the week before. Live exports of cattle to NI for further feeding or breeding up to the end of November 2020 stood at 38,021, up from 18,325 for the same period in 2019.

Northern comment

Beef prices are holding steady in Northern Ireland, with plants leaving base quotes for U-3 grading animals unchanged on 366p to 368p/kg (€4.28 to €4.30/kg inc VAT).

Deals are still available for regular sellers, with steers making 374p to 376p/kg (€4.38 to €4.40/kg), while deals on heifers continue to be offered around the 380p/kg (€4.45/kg) mark, with more on offer for butcher-type animals.

The cow trade has slowed, with quotes on R3 animals holding at 265p/kg (€3.10/kg) with deals ranging from 280p to 290p (€3.27 to €3.39/kg).