The balance of power within the beef trade this week is firmly in favour of farmers with cattle to sell, as factory agents remain keen for stock.

Competition between plants is strong, with some farmers being contacted by buyers working for other processors offering various incentives to part with cattle.

The prospect of a £40 payment on cattle slaughtered after 1 February under the Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme - up from £20 in January - is also affecting the trade.

Factory agents have encountered plenty of resistance from farmers when it comes to selling cattle.

Higher prices have been offered, along with deals that avoid cuts to out-of-spec animals to secure adequate numbers.

Base quotes are up 2p/kg, with 466p/kg now on offer for U-3 grading animals. But as has been the case for some time, quotes bear little resemblance to deals on in-spec animals.

Most farmers indicate 484p to 486p/kg is freely available as a starting price.

While there are animals moving at this level, farmers with a steady flow of animals over the coming weeks indicate deals of 490p/kg are on offer.

The higher end of the outlined prices are also easier to come by if farmers have the option of selling live, as the mart trade continues to provide a viable alternative market outlet.

Good-quality animals with U grading conformation are commanding prices of 290p to 300p/kg with increasing regularity, which would equate to deadweight prices of 490p to 500p/kg.

Last week, factory prices on U3 cattle increased by 0.8p/kg to average 485p/kg, with heifers at the same grade rising 1.3p/kg to average 484.3p/kg.


Like prime cattle, official quotes on cull cows show little correlation to the actual prices being paid. Quotes on R3 animals remain on 326p/kg, but prices generally start at 350p/kg for aged cows, with deals rising upwards to 400p/kg for good-quality cows under 60 months.

NI sheep: deals to be made on hoggets

Factories are trying to keep pace with a rampant live trade and prices are on the increase as a result.

While some plants moved up 5p/kg to a 565p/kg, farmers indicate deals of 575p to 580p/kg payable to 22.5kg deadweight are freely available to match the live ring.

Gortin had a steady trade, with £138 for 34kg hoggets, £137 for 27kg, 29kg to £135.50 and 25kg to £133.

In Kilrea, 1,050 hoggets sold from 506p to 566p/kg, no change on last week, with 22kg at £124.50, 23kg to £128 and 29kg at £129.50.

Markethill sold 750 hoggets from 520p to 556p/kg, little changed on last week. Heavy hoggets at 25.2kg made £131.50, 24.1kg to £127, £115 for 20.7kg, £117 paid for 21.2kg and £120 for 21.8kg.

Store hoggets were a good trade making £76 to £100. In Ballymena, store hoggets sold from £90 to £119.

In Saintfield, 990 hoggets sold in a steady trade from 505p to 560p/kg, no change on last week. Hoggets at 31kg made £139, 27.7kg at £134 and 26.5kg at £131. Lighter sorts at 21.4kg made £117.

In Ballymena, a steady trade saw 29.5kg hoggets making £137.50, 27.5kg to £131, 25kg to £130, 24.5kg to £130, with 23kg at £126 and 22.5kg at £125.


The trade for fat ewes is slightly easier this week. In Gortin, fat ewes sold to £164, with a run from £110 to £162.

In Kilrea, the top was £171, while in Markethill ewes sold to £266, with the main run from £120 to £186. In Saintfield, top was £200, with the main run from £115 to £172.

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