Factories remain keen for cattle and, as was the case last week, there are agents taking the initiative in making contact with farmers about numbers coming forward.

Supplies coming on the market are meeting processing demand. However, the mix of cattle on offer is less balanced.

In-spec steers and heifers are getting harder to come by, whereas animals that are best suited to food service markets are underpinning throughput.

Plants are operating on fewer days next week due to the bank holiday and, as such, base quotes are unchanged at 466p/kg for U-3 grading animals.

However, that falls well short of the prices being paid. Some plants are buying cattle at 480p/kg from farmers with less selling power.

But, in general, in-spec steers and heifers are moving at 484p to 486p/kg, with regular finishers indicating 490p/kg is available.

The live ring continues to offer a strong outlet for farmers not under movement restrictions and struggling to negotiate on price, as U grading animals are returning north of 280p/kg, which is a finished price above 490p/kg.

Supplies of young bulls are becoming more widely available and deals of 480p to 482p/kg are being paid to regular finishers with animals meeting age, conformation and carcase weight specifications.

However, there are plenty of reports of bulls on 474p/kg, usually where animals exceed weight limits or they are close to breaching the 16-month age limit, putting farmers on the back foot when negotiating on price.

Last week, the average price paid on steers and heifers of all grades increased by 0.6p to 473.4p/kg, with U3 steers up 1.1p to 486.1p/kg.

Heifers at the same grade were marginally higher at 487.6p/kg.


Cull cows are an improving trade, with suckler types opening on 360p/kg, but deals of 370p/kg on offer.

Younger cows are highly sought after and deals of 380p to 400p/kg are available to keep pace with the live ring.

NI sheep trade: marts strong as factories apply pressure

The mart trade is steady for hoggets and lambs, although there is pressure being applied to factory prices.

Quotes on hoggets are back at 740p to 760p/kg, but deals of 780p/kg are on offer to match the live ring.

Lamb quotes are back to 800p/kg, but with the live ring returning over £180, deals of £8.60/kg are available.

In Gortin, a slightly easier trade saw lambs at 33kg and 28kg make £200, with the main run from £160 to £194.

In Kilrea, hoggets sold to 738p/kg, with 22.5kg at £166, 23kg at £167 and 24.5kg at £173.50. Lambs are a stronger trade, with 22kg at £176, 21.5kg at £171 and 23.5kg at £185.

Markethill sold hoggets from 670p to 765p/kg, down by 30p/kg on last week, with 26kg to £199, 24kg at £182, 20.2kg to £148 and 23.5kg at £165.

Lambs sold from 720p to 782p/kg, down by 80p/kg for heavier lambs, with 22.8kg at £178, 22.4kg at £173.50 and 22kg at £170.

Saintfield sold hoggets from 660p to 745p/kg, down 30p/kg, with 27kg to 34kg lots on £180 to £197.

Lambs sold from 750p to 825p/kg, down by 25p/kg, with £190 for 26kg, 24kg at £187, 25kg at £185, 23kg to £180 and 21kg to £157.50.

In Ballymena, hoggets at 27kg made £178, with lambs steady, as 25.5kg made £187 and 21kg from £160 to £174.

Fat ewes

In Gortin, fat ewes topped £240, with a big run from £180 to £236.

In Kilrea, top was £300, while Markethill sold fleshed ewes sold from £180 to £246.

In Saintfield, top was £226, with a run from £160 to £218.

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