Factories have been unable to drop quotes any more this week on the back of lower cattle supplies and some finishers easing off on selling given the direction of the trade in the last three weeks.

Factories have been forced into holding quotes this week at the same prices that they were buying cattle at last week.

Bullocks are working off €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg, while heifers are working off base prices of €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg.

Factories continue to channel cattle through their own sustainability schemes. ABP has the ABP 'Advantage programme', while Kepak has the Kepak/Tirlan '2020 programme'.

An R= grading in-spec Aberdeen Angus heifer trading in these programmes this week is on a 20c/kg QA bonus, a 20c programme bonus and a 30c/kg breed bonus on top of the base price. This means this heifer is being quoted at €5.80/kg paid price this week.

Agents are reporting very tight numbers of finished cattle on the ground, with some scratching their heads as to where supplies are going to come from as we move through the month of March.

Bull trade

The young bull trade remains pretty steady, with €5.25/kg on the table for U grading young bulls in some of the factories specialising in bulls.

R grading bulls are moving at €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg, while O and P grading bulls are being paid out at 10c to 20c/kg less.

Under-16-month bulls are generally working off €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg base price, with the 12c/kg in-spec bonus being added in along with grading for the final price.

Cull cows

Cull cows also remain a very solid trade, despite the increased number of cows coming on the market.

U grading suckler cows are still top of the market, with €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg being paid for good-quality young well-fleshed cows this week.

R grading cows are working off €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg, with O grading suckler cows coming in at €4.30/kg, while P grading are working off €4.00/kg to €4.10/kg, depending on weight and flesh cover.

NI trade

Factories are trying to keep a lid on the trade and buying cattle at 470p/kg to 475p/kg (€5.83/kg), but regular finishers are managing to squeeze deals of 480p to 482p/kg (€5.88 to €5.91/kg) in return for a steady flow of in-spec animals. The NI trade remains 30p behind the British market.

Cows are also steady, with aged lots making 360p/kg (€4.41/kg), with younger animals at 380p/kg (€4.66/kg).