The beef trade remains on a firm footing this week, with quotes at the upper end of the market on 460p/kg for U-3 grading animals.

There are plants officially quoting below this level. But, in reality, those quotes should be rejected by farmers, as, when pushed, factory agents are moving to the higher base to avoid losing numbers.

While supplies of cattle and processing demand are reasonably balanced, reports indicate the mix of animals on offer sees a decline in good quality in-spec steers and heifers.

That means processors are relying heavily on animals better suited to supplying manufacturing beef markets to maintain throughput.

With good-quality cattle in demand, farmers are well positioned to bargain on price and their negotiating hand is strengthened where there are bigger number to offload or the option of selling live.

Most plants are working on an opening price around 478p to 480p/kg and they are getting cattle at this level.

However, there are plenty of reports of deals being made at 484p to 486p/kg where in-spec steers and heifers can be supplied. Higher prices are reserved for farmers selling big numbers.

Young bulls are an improved trade, with prices in the 470p/kg range for animals meeting age, weight and certain conformation specifications.

Although factory prices are holding firm, they continue to lag well behind abattoirs in Britain, where U grading animals are making 510p to 515p/kg.

Industry representatives state the short-term outlook is unlikely to see prices in Britain easing as supplies are limited.

Last week, NI steers and heifers averaged 470.01p/kg across all grades. Steers at U3 conformation averaged 482.8p/kg, with heifers on 482.4p/kg and bulls on 469.2p/kg.


Cull cows are an improved trade, with quotes on O+3 animals up 12p to 340p/kg and deals for suckler types on 365p to 370p/kg. Younger animals with good conformation are making 390p/kg.

NI sheep: hogget prices push on to £7/kg

Hogget prices in the live ring are still on the up, hitting £202 in Gortin.

To keep pace, plants have increased quotes by 40p to 690p/kg and deals of 700p/kg are being paid to farmers with big numbers. Plants are also paying to 23kg deadweight.

In Gortin, record prices of £202 for 33kg were paid, with £193 for 30kg, 23kg to £150 and 22kg at £145.

In Kilrea, 950 hoggets sold from 600p to 686p/kg, up 10p on last week, with 24.5kg at £168, 23kg at £156.50 and a top price of £190 for 29kg.

Markethill had a strong sale, with 1,100 hoggets making 600p to 656p/kg, up 10p/kg on last week. Heavy hoggets sold to an average 26kg and £159, topping £179. Quality middleweights made £155 for 23.9kg and £146 for 22.8kg. Store hoggets made £88 to £121, with Ballymena selling stores from £116 to £140.

In Saintfield, 590 hoggets sold from 615p to 690p/kg, up 15p/kg on last week. Hoggets at 32kg made £190, 28kg at £170, 27kg at £168 and a big run from £160 to £167.

In Ballymena, Beltex at 23kg made £169, with Texels at 25.5kg to £167. Hoggets at 30.5kg made £184, with 22kg at £144. .


The trade for fat ewes is strong, hitting £215 in Gortin, with a run from £148 to £214.

In Kilrea, ewes topped £343, while, in Markethill, ewes made £120 to £178. In Saintfield, Texels made £240, with the main trade from £140 to £210.

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