The beef trade continues like the weather - with no changes experienced this week across the country.

Factory agents are doing little to lift the spirits of winter finishers, with most factories stuck on the same quotes as last week.

The three four-day weeks in a row has played into their hands in terms of managing supplies and this has meant they didn’t have to increase prices to get cattle.

All indications are at the moment that quotes will improve into May and June.

Some lower-stocked grass-based finishers have opted to keep animals housed at this stage for a mid-summer finish as opposed to an August or September finish, so this could bode well for an even greater tightening of supplies later in the year.

Bullocks are working off a base price of €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg, while heifers are working off a base price of €5.15/kg to €5.25/kg.

Foyle Meats in Donegal continues to be out in front, with its quote of €5.30/kg for bullocks killing out between 300kg and 400kg, while its quote for heifers in the same carcase weight range comes in at €5.35/kg this week.


The young bull trade is also steady this week, with €5.40/kg on the table for U grading young bulls.

R grading bulls are being quoted at €5.25/kg to €5.35/kg, while O and P grading bulls are being paid out at 10c/kg less.

Under-16-month bulls are generally working off €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg base price, with the 12c/kg in-spec bonus being added in along with grading for the final price.

Cull cows also remain a very solid trade. 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.

R grading cows are a similar trade to last week and are working off €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg, with O grading suckler cows coming in at €4.40/kg, while P grading cows are working off €4.20/kg to €4.30/kg, depending on weight and flesh cover.

Last week’s kill came in at 30,504, which was back just under 400 head on the previous four-day week.

The number of calves slaughtered jumped by 800 head last week to 1,809. The 2024 total kill remains 24,000 head ahead of the same period in 2023.

Across the water in Britain, the cow kill has tightened and this has meant cow prices have increased in recent days.

Prime cattle remain a steady trade, with a slight reduction of 2p/kg over the last seven days. R4L bullocks continue to trade at £4.90/kg (€6.09/kg), which is still over 60c/kg or almost €200/head more than the Irish price.

British beef week is a big campaign taking place in Britain from 23 to 30 April to highlight the benefits of eating beef and the versatility of cooking it. It’s expected to create a lift in demand coming into early summer and barbecue season kicking off.

Back home, Good Herdsman is quoting €6.05/kg for an all-in organic price for an R grade animal this week for in-spec cattle.

This price is rising to €6.10/kg at the end of the month.

The company is encouraging organic farmers to shift more of their supply to a winter finish, but the sums of feeding €800/tonne meal to finish animals during the winter just don’t add up if high levels are required.

NI comment

Base quotes increased by 4p/kg at some plants in NI, bringing U-3 animals to 464p/kg (€5.69/kg inc VAT).

However, deals are running well above this level, with 480p to 486p/kg (€5.88 to €5.95/kg) buying the vast majority of prime steers and heifers.

Young bulls are making 470p/kg (€5.76/kg).

Cull cows are a solid trade, with prices from 360p/kg (€4.41/kg) for older suckler types to 380p/kg (€4.66/kg) for younger lots.