For the first time since mid-April, factory quotes on prime cattle have increased, with several plants upping official base prices by 6p to 452p/kg for U-3 animals.
Other plants are sticking on a base of 446p/kg, curtailing the prices payable on animals sold through breed schemes, such as Angus, where bonuses are applied to official quotes.
However, with a vibrant live ring offering strong returns for both finished conventional and Angus animals, farmers are in a good position to negotiate for higher prices.
Reports indicate some plants are running short on throughput and there are deals to be had by pricing round.
With cattle numbers tightening at a time when processing demand is on the up across the UK, 470p/kg is being freely offered as a starting price for in-spec steers and heifers this week.
Where farmers have bigger numbers or a steady supply of cattle to offer this autumn, reports indicate 474p to 476p/kg is being paid with higher prices reserved for specialist finishers.
Prices for young bulls are hugely variable. Where plants are short on numbers and farmers can supply bulls meeting market specifications on conformation, age and carcase weight, deals of 470p/kg have been paid. Other reports indicate bulls being paid prices of 460p to 466p/kg.
Last week, the average price paid on steers and heifers across all grades rose by 3.78p to 455.53p/kg. On U3 grading animals, steers increased by 4.5p/kg to an average 469.7p/kg, with heifers up 0.8p to 466.5p/kg.
While prices at local plants are rising, they fall well short of those being paid in Britain, where prime animals are making upwards of 485p/kg to highs of 495p/kg in Scotland.
The trade for cull cows remains positive with sales of manufacturing beef gaining momentum across the UK.
Quotes are up 4p to 352p/kg for R3 animals, but price deals are running 20p to 30p/kg above this for good-quality suckler types.
NI sheep: lamb trade holding firm
There were more lambs on offer in the marts this week, but prices held reasonably steady. Factory quotes are unchanged at 515p/kg, making a lamb worth £108.15 at the 21kg carcase limit.
Kilrea had a big show of 1,300 lambs selling from 450p to 497p/kg. The top price per head was £120 for 25kg, with 24.5kg at £119.
In Gortin, prices were back about £2/head. Top price was £112.50 for 24kg, while £112 was paid for 25kg. A big run of pens made £100 to £110 for 21kg to 25kg lots.
Markethill had a big show of 1,360 lambs, selling from 460p to 489p/kg, down by 5p/kg.
The best price for heavy lambs was £120, with a big run from £111 to £116.50 for weights at 24.5kg to 25.6kg.
Quality middleweights made 460p to 489p/kg, with 23.5kg at £115 and 23kg at £112.50. Others lots at 22.4kg made £107, with 22kg at £107.
Heavier stores reached 529p/kg for 17.5kg at £92.50, with 526p/kg for 17.1kg at £90. Others made from £89 to £94.
The trade in Saintfield was steady and 785 lambs making 465p to 505p/kg, no change on last week. The top price saw Texels at 30kg making £132. Charollais at 28kg made £120. A run of Texels from 24kg to 28kg made from £112 to £117. Lambs at 23kg sold from £106 to £111.
Early lots in Ballymena saw 26.5kg making £116 and 25kg to £115. Lambs at 24.5kg sold from £111 to £115, with 24kg making £112 to £114.
Lambs at 23.5kg made £113, 22.5kg made £106 to £107 and 21kg selling at £103. Store lambs in Ballymena made £90.50 to £95.
In Rathfriland, 925 lambs sold to an average of 478p/kg, up by 21p/kg on last week.
The trade in fat ewes was slightly easier this week. In Kilrea, the top price was £156. In Gortin, ewes sold to £135, with a big run from £94 to £130. At Markethill, ewes sold from £100 to a top of £148. In Saintfield, top was £190, with a big run from £110 to £186. In Markethill, the top was £126.