Factories are exerting pressure on the beef trade this week, with cuts of 4p to 8p/kg being applied to price deals on finished cattle.

Those cuts are not being well received by finishers and there are more farmers looking to move animals through the live ring where demand remains exceptionally strong.

With the Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme payment rising £20 to £60 on 1 March, there are farmers holding cattle back to avail of the higher payment.

A similar trend developed in late January and left factory agents short on numbers, forcing them to raise prices to secure cattle.

However, this time around, factories have moved to safeguard supplies by sourcing cattle through the live ring in recent weeks and relying more on specialist finishers to maintain throughput.

That means farmers holding cattle are unlikely to see this tactic translate into higher prices in the week ahead.

Base quotes are down 4p/kg, with most plants on 454p to 460p/kg for U-3 grading animals. Deals above quotes are available, but vary greatly.

Some plants have capped deals at 476p/kg to 478p/kg, whereas other plants have paid 480p to 484p/kg.

Young bulls are making 460p to 470p/kg, with the higher prices easier to come by on animals meeting market specification on age, conformation and carcase weight.

Factory agents state a downturn in the market is causing the reduction in price. However, prices in Britain remain above 500p/kg and are close to 30p/kg ahead of local plants.

Last week, the average price paid across all steers and heifers was 473.36p/kg, with U3 steers on 482.2p/kg. Heifers at the same grade averaged 485.2p/kg, with bulls on 470.8p/kg.


Quotes on cull cows have seen quotes easing to around 330p/kg for R3 animals, but price deals remain well above this level. Older cows are making 360p/kg, but young lots with good conformation are selling above 380p/kg to keep pace with a strong live trade.

NI sheep: hogget trade surges upwards

The live trade has roared into life this week, with prices soaring to £178 and a big run making £140 to £170.

To keep pace, plants have increased quotes by 30p to 620p/kg, but deals of 640p to 650p/kg are being paid.

Gortin sold hoggets to £170 for 28.5kg, with £168 for 32.5kg. Hoggets at 24.5kg made £150, while 21.5kg made £140.

A spectacular trade in Kilrea saw hoggets make 580p to 665p/kg, up 47p to 77p/kg on last week. Hoggets at 20kg made £133, 23kg to £152, 26kg to £170 and £175 for 27kg.

Markethill sold 930 hoggets from 570p to 628p/kg, up 40p/kg on last week. Heavy hoggets at 25.3kg made £159, 24.9kg at £150.50, 20kg to £125.50 and £126.50 for 20.8kg (608p). Store hoggets made £105 to £113.50. Stores in Ballymena made £98 to £112.

In Saintfield, 725 hoggets sold from 588p to 638p/kg, up 38p/kg. Hoggets at 32kg made £178, 29kg to £166 and a big run making £160.

In Ballymena, Texel hoggets at 31kg made £168, 31.5kg made £166, 25kg to £155, 24kg to £147, 23kg to £137 and 22kg to £138.


The trade in fat ewes is very strong, with Gortin selling to £230 and the main run from £140 to £220. In Kilrea, top was £250, while in Markethill ewes topped £190. In Saintfield, top was £230, with the main at £141 to £210.

Read more

Factories showing ‘no regard’ for beef farmers - IFA

Sheep price update: trade heats up as hoggets top €180/head