Base quotes on prime cattle have steadied this week, after several plants applied price cuts during the past fortnight. That keeps U-3 grading steers and heifers on 454p to 460p/kg.

In reality, prices remain well above official quotes for the main run of conventional cattle, although animals sold through premium breed schemes are pinned tightly to base quotes.

While quotes are unchanged, there are reports of plants shaving 2p/kg off deals, although this seems to be affecting the prices at the upper end of the market.

There is a big range in price deals on offer, as plants try to keep a lid on the trade, with price deals opening at 476p to 478p/kg.

But where farmers have greater negotiating power or the option to sell live, they are managing to secure deals of 480p to 484p/kg.

Young bulls are a more challenging trade, although there continues to be a two-tier approach from factory agents.

Farmers have a good supply of bulls meeting age and certain carcase weight limits report deals in line with steer prices. However, the main run of bulls are on deals of 465p to 470p/kg.

Factory agents continue to talk the trade down, citing various reasons for lower prices.

Despite this, beef prices in Britain continue to pay 500p to 510p/kg for prime cattle.

That means a 400kg steer carcase processed at abattoirs in Britain will generate £120 to £130 more than the equivalent animal at local plants.

Last week, the average price for steers and heifers across all grades was 471.2p/kg, with U3 steers on 483.3p/kg and heifers averaging 485.5p/kg.


The cull cow trade is generally steady with a strong live ring underpinning prices.

Official quotes of 330p/kg for R3 animals are 30p to 35p/kg below prices on offer for aged cows, while younger lots are moving off farm at prices of 380p/kg and above, depending on quality.

Last week, the average price paid on R3 cows eased by 0.2p to 364.2p/kg, with O+3 animals averaging 339.1p/kg.

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The live trade for hoggets continues to return higher prices for slaughter-fit sheep, with prices up to £168 paid and a big run from £140 to £165.

Plants have increased quotes by 10p to 630p/kg, but 640p to 670p/kg is being paid to keep pace with the live trade, making a 22.5kg carcase worth £150.

Gortin sold hoggets to £168 for 30kg, £161 for 29kg and 24kg to £149. Kilrea sold 950 hoggets from 583p to 670p/kg, with 21.5kg at £144 and a top price per head of £170 for 26kg.

Markethill had a smaller show, with 590 hoggets making 570p to 619p/kg, no change on last week. Hoggets at 25.4kg made £153.50, 27kg at £160, £145.50 for 23.5kg and £134 for 24.9kg.

Store hoggets were a good trade from £95 to £114.50, while, in Ballymena, stores sold from £68 to £110.

In Saintfield, 525 hoggets sold in a steady trade from 590p to 658p/kg, little changed from last week. Hoggets at 27kg made £164, 28kg at £160 and a big run of hoggets in around £153.

In Ballymena, hoggets at 31.5kg made £162, 27.5kg made £155, 27kg to £153, 24kg made £144, 23.5kg at £141 and 20.5kg at £115.


The trade in fat ewes has eased slightly, with Gortin selling to £250, with a big run from £140 to £202. In Kilrea, top was £194, with Markethill selling to £200 and a big run from £130 to £180. In Saintfield, ewes made £186, with the main run from £138 to £180.

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Beef trade steady despite factory efforts