There are mixed signals coming from the cattle trade this week on pricing. Some factory agents continue to talk the trade down by knocking 2p to 4p/kg off price deals.

However, that tactic appears to be gaining little traction, as competing agents continue to offer deals on par with last week. The same agents are also indicating numbers are beginning to tighten.

Reports also point to an upturn in sales of manufacturing beef and steak cuts within the UK and across Europe, as processing demand strengthens ahead of the Olympics and European football championships.

Official quotes for U-3 animals remains on 464p/kg at the top of the market, although it has eased to 456p/kg at the opposite end of the quote range.

Losing numbers

However, there are multiple reports of in-spec steers and heifers being purchased from 482p to 486p/kg, with cattle agents being more flexible on price where there is a risk of losing numbers.

Farmers selling steers and heifers also state that animals are moving off farm within two or three days of booking for slaughter.

Young bulls are a more challenging trade, with contrasting reports on price. Some processors are offering 470p/kg, often with the prospect of a two-week waiting period.

That has seen some farmers with limited selling power accepting this price, simply to move bulls before they exceed the 16-month age limit.

Equally, there are bulls moving at 478p/kg with no waiting period, provided animals meet specifications on carcase weight, age and conformation.

Last week, the average price paid on steers and heifers across all grades fell by 2.3p to 474.23p/kg, with U3 steers down 2p to 485.3p/kg.

Heifers at the same grade fell by a similar amount to 486.7p/kg, with young bulls on 474.1p/kg.


A strong live trade continues to return higher prices on cull cows, keeping factory prices on 370p to 390p/kg depending on quality, easing to 340p/kg for plainer types.

NI sheep: live trade returning higher prices on lambs

There are more lambs on offer this week, which has seen some marts recording lower prices.

However, the live ring continues to run well above factory quotes of 710p/kg, with lamb groups and farmers digging in hard and refusing to accept price cuts at local plants.


In Gortin, lambs at 29kg made £185, 27kg to £172, 24kg to £170, with 22.5kg at £157.50.

In Kilrea, 800 lambs sold from 715p to 775p/kg, down 40p to 57p/kg on last week, with 22kg at £170.50, 23.5kg at £180, 21kg at £159.50 and 24kg on £170.50 to £176.

In Markethill, 500 head sold from 680p to 759p/kg, down 59p to 80p/kg on last week, with 19.5kg at £148, 23kg at £169, 20.7kg at £151, with several pens making £168 to £172.

A smaller sale in Saintfield had 480 head selling from 710p to 802p/kg, down by 30p to 50p/kg on last week. Texels at 24kg and 25kg made £176 to £182.50 and 21kg from £149 to £156.50.

In Ballymena, lambs at 22.5kg sold from £165 to £177, with 21.5kg making £157. Light lambs at 17.5kg to 19kg made £136.

Fat ewes

Well-fleshed ewes in the marts are still a good trade. In Gortin, ewes sold from £150 to £238. In Kilrea, top was £211 and, in Markethill, ewes sold from £140 to £214, with plainer types making from £130. In Saintfield, ewes sold to £246 for Texels, with a run from £180 to £234.

Read more

Clare Marts investigating incident involving weanling

Bank holiday brings sunshine and a lift in beef quotes