There is greater positivity within the beef trade this week, as signs emerge that supplies of prime cattle are beginning to tighten.

Overall, the trade is steady, with base quotes unchanged on 454p to 460p/kg for U-3 grading animals.

In terms of deals on offer, there is a big range in prices available and, as a whole, they are generally on par with last week.

While processors indicate supplies are fine and in line with demand, there are isolated reports of farmers being contacted by factory agents looking for in-spec animals.

Farmers with good-quality cattle to hand are finding it easier to negotiate on price and deals around 484p to 486p/kg were more common in recent days.

Deals of 480p/kg are being offered to farmers with less negotiating power. Some plants are capitalising on farmers under TB movement restrictions and needing to offload cattle, paying prices as low as 472p/kg.

With such a range in prices available, farmers are advised to price around rather than accept the first offer from the closest plant or factory they historically deal with.

If the option of selling live is available, it should also be considered as good-quality animals are trading north of 280p/kg, which at 57% kill-out is a beef price above 490p/kg.

Mart managers also indicate supplies of heavy, fleshed, short-keep cattle are starting to tighten, which is underpinning buying demand at present.

Last week, the average price paid on steers and heifers across all grades fell by 1p to 470.23p/kg.

Steers with U3 conformation increased by 0.7p/kg to average 484p/kg, whereas heifers fell 3.8p to 481.7p/kg.


Demand for cull cows remains strong and numbers are not as freely available as in previous weeks.

Quotes are unchanged at 330p/kg for R3 animals, but bears no resemblance to what is being paid. Older cows remain on 360p to 370p/kg, with younger lots making upwards of 380p/kg.

NI sheep: rampant live trade returning higher prices

The sheep trade is rampant, with the live ring on fire. Heavy hoggets are making over £170, with prices from £186 to £198 paid for exceptional lots.

That leaves local plants lagging well behind, despite base quotes rising 25p to 650p/kg. However, deals start at 670p, with 680p/kg also being paid.

The trade in Gortin was on fire, with hoggets topping £171 for 27.5kg, £168 for 29kg, 24kg to £152 and 21.5kg making £142.

In Kilrea, 800 hoggets made 590p to 664p/kg, up a little on last week. Hoggets at 28kg made £186, 24kg at £157 and a top of £198.

Markethill had a strong sale of 900 hoggets from 590p to 693p/kg, up 20p to 74p/kg on last week.

Hoggets at 26kg made £168, 27kg to £170, £105 for 16kg, £111 for 17kg and store hoggets a good trade from £105 to £124. In Ballymena, the best store hoggets sold from £106 to £122.

In Saintfield, a show of 550 hoggets sold in an exceptional trade from 600p to 714p/kg, up 10p to 56p/kg on last week. Hoggets at 35kg made £189, 30kg at £182 and 27kg at £179. A big run of hoggets made from £157 to £171.

In Ballymena, a very strong trade saw 31kg make £168, 26kg to £165.50, 25.5kg to £159, 24.5kg to £156, 22kg to £141 and 21kg to £130.


The trade for fat ewes is also strong. In Gortin, fat ewes sold to £250, with a run from £144 to £240. In Kilrea, the top was £214, while, in Markethill, ewes sold from £130 to a top of £189. In Saintfield, the main run made £151 to £174.

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