Supplies of finished cattle are harder to come by this week and where farmers have a good supply of in-spec steers and heifers, they are well placed to negotiate for higher prices.
Multiple farmers indicate factory agents have been ringing around to enquire after cattle this week, as well as wanting numbers for the week ahead.
With farmers in a stronger selling position, there is an extra 2p to 4p/kg on offer to secure numbers. There are also reports of factory agents dipping into the live trade more frequently to top up numbers as required.
Base quotes are steady at 448p/kg for U-3 grading animals, but this bears little resemblance to what is being offered to farmers.
Most reports indicate 470p/kg is widely available on in-spec steers and heifers and there are plenty of cattle moving at this level.
Some farmers are managing to secure free haulage within price deals, but this is in lieu of higher prices.
There are reports of 472p to 474p/kg being paid to regular finishers handling bigger numbers, particularly where good-quality heifers can be supplied.
Young bulls are a mixed trade. Where animals meet market specifications on age, fat cover and carcase weight limits, farmers indicate deals from 460p to 468p/kg have been paid.
In contrast, there are reports of bulls being pinned to prices around 454p/kg, although, in such instances, carcase weight limits appear to be exceeded.
Last week, the average price paid across steers and heifers of all grades rose by 0.58p/kg to average 454.44p/kg.
For steers at U3 conformation, prices increased by 1.9p to 469.2p/kg, with heifers at the same grade up 2.6p to 469.6p/kg. While the local beef trade has strengthened, prices are running around 30p/kg below those paid in Britain.
The cull cow trade has steadied this week, with quotes holding at 324p/kg for R3 animals. Most reports indicate deals are unchanged, with 10p/kg above base on offer.
NI sheep trade: lamb quotes increased to 535p/kg
The lamb trade has improved this week, with plants increasing quotes by 5p/kg to 535p/kg at 22kg deadweight, making lambs worth £117.70 at the weight limit.
However, higher prices are on offer to keep pace with the marts, where prices are steady or slightly stronger.
In Gortin, lambs at 25.5kg and 27kg made £125, 24kg made £122.50, with 22kg making £114.50.
In Kilrea, the trade was steady, with a show of 900 lambs making 482p to 542p/kg, up 32p/kg for lighter sorts. Lambs at 19kg made £103, 23kg to £121, 26kg to £127.50 and 24kg to £118.
Markethill sold 710 lambs in a stronger trade from 470p to 505p/kg, up 10p to 14p/kg.
Heavy lambs at 24kg reached £110, 25.2kg to £121 and 24.5kg at £116. Quality middleweights made £108.50 for 21.5kg and £116 for 23.4kg.
Store lambs were a firm trade, selling to 533p/kg for 15.2kg at £81 and 518p for 17.1kg making £88.50. Store lambs in Ballymena were firmer, selling from £80 to a top of £104.50 for top-quality lots.
In Saintfield, a show of 755 lambs sold from 482p to 550p/kg, up 20p/kg for lighter lambs.
In Ballymena, lambs at 22.5kg sold to £112.50, 24kg to £117 and 24.5kg at £120.
The trade for fat ewes is firm this week. Gortin sold ewes to a top of £142, with a big run from £100 to £130. In Kilrea, ewes topped £164. Markethill had a good trade, selling from £80 to a top of £150.