Processors are operating on a shorter week due to the July bank holiday on Friday and that means the beef trade is on a steady footing.

Base quotes are unchanged, with 462p/kg still on offer at the top end of the market for U-3 grading animals, slipping back to 454p/kg at the opposite end of the scale.

Supplies of finished cattle remain tight, as the number of shed-finished animals continue to decline, leaving factories increasingly reliant on specialist finishing units to maintain throughput.

Reports indicate numbers will be on the tight side for the remainder of July, with several factory agents making enquiries about stock coming forward.

However, with factory prices in Britain on par with Northern Ireland, the consensus is there is little scope for an uplift in beef price beyond current levels, despite the limited availability of prime cattle.

Farmers indicate that, once again, 480p/kg is the realistic opening price for in-spec cattle this week.

Where farmers can offer a good supply of steers, there is 2p to 4p/kg more on offer for bigger numbers and regular finishers.

Heifers are also moving around 482p to 484p/kg, although there are deals to be had above this in return for a regular flow of animals over the remainder of July.

Young bulls continue to move around 478p/kg. But with numbers tailing off, there are reports of bulls matching steer prices for animals meeting market specification on age, carcase weight and conformation.

Last week, the average price paid on steers and heifers of all grades eased by 0.2p to 469.8p/kg, with U3 steers falling 0.7p to 482.7p/kg.

For heifers at the same grade, prices increased by 3.2p to 486p/kg, with young bulls up 2.5p/kg to 475.9p/kg.


The cull cow trade remains strong, as plants compete with a vibrant live trade. Good-quality, young suckler types are moving at 390p to 400p/kg, with older cows on 370p/kg.

NI sheep: lamb prices hit with further cuts

Price pressure continues to grow within the lamb trade and factory quotes, where available, are back 50p to 60p/kg from last week.

Quotes had eased to 570p/kg on Monday, but fell to 550p/kg by midweek, making a 21kg lamb carcase worth £115 at the outlined starting price.

However, there were reports of deals at 570p to 590p/kg still being paid for good-quality meal-finished lambs up to midweek, but the top end of those prices were harder to secure for Thursday.

Due to the July bank holidays at the end of this week, factories are closed on Friday. The majority of NI marts also closed this week and will reopen from Monday onwards.

Swatragh held its weekly sale on Saturday last and prices were lower week on week. Over 1,280 sheep went under the hammer, of which 850 were lambs, with prices peaking at £147 for a single 30kg lot.

Heavy lambs saw 28kg sell to £144, 27.5kg to £139, 27kg to £138, 26kg to £140 and 25.3kg to £132. Lambs weighing 21kg to 25kg were back £8 to £10/head, with 23kg to 24kg making £122 to £126, while 22kg to 22.5kg sold from £116 to £119 and 21kg on £113.

Fat ewes were a steadier trade, with prices peaking at £181. The main run of fleshed ewes made £160 to £170 for lowland types, easing back to £130 for ewes with less flesh and plainer-quality lots.

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