With factories operating on a four-day kill week, the beef trade is on a steady footing, as agents were under less pressure to source numbers.
However, with factories back to normal working arrangements, the outlook for next week shows no flush of cattle coming forward for slaughter.
If the availability of finished cattle remains tight, this should give farmers scope to negotiate for higher prices. Their position will be helped by having bigger numbers of in-spec animals to hand.
Base quotes are again unchanged this week, which keeps U-3 grading animals on a top quote of 426p/kg.
But as has been the case for several weeks now, starting prices for prime cattle generally open around 10p/kg above the outlined quote.
Farmers with smaller numbers are reporting steers moving from 436p to 438p/kg, with more regular finishers and those with bigger numbers securing 2p/kg more at 440p/kg. There are prices above this, but they are generally reserved for specialist finishers.
Heifers are moving off farm around 438p to 440p/kg, with regular finishers reporting 442p and 444p/kg available for animals suited to the butcher and wholesaler markets.
Young bulls are pinned at prices around 432p/kg, but there are deals in line with steer prices for bigger numbers of animals below 400kg carcase weight.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers rose by 1.1p to 426.16p/kg. On U3 grading animals, steers increased by 2.5p/kg to average 440.5p/kg.
For heifers at the same grade, there was a similar price increase, with animals averaging 441.2p/kg, while young bulls rose by 1.8p/kg to average 432.8p/kg.
There is strong demand for cull cows, as sales of manufacturing beef prosper. Base quotes are steady, with R3 animals on 365p/kg, while O+3 cows are on a base of 355p/kg.
Deals continue to run well ahead of quotes, with good-quality cows typically making 380p/kg.
NI sheep: factory lamb prices steady
The trade for slaughter-fit lambs has steadied this week, with little change in prices in the live ring or plants.
Factory quotes remain on 495p/kg, making a lamb worth £103.95 for 21kg deadweight. But prices are running 10p to 15p/kg above quotes.
In Kilrea, 620 lambs sold from 450p to 497p/kg, little changed on last week. Lambs at 24kg half-weight made £108.
In Massereene, 649 head made 432p to 471p/kg, no change on last week. Heavy lambs at 28.5kg to 33.5kg made from £109 to £115, with 25kg making £108.
In Saintfield, 625 lambs sold from 445p to 500p/kg, no change on last week. The top price was for 30kg at £125. Lambs at 27kg made £118, 24kg to £106, 22kg to £98 and 18.5kg to £83.
In Rathfriland, 825 lambs sold from 430p to 530p/kg, with the sale average of 453p/kg up 1p/kg.
The trade in fat ewes has dipped slightly. In Kilrea, top price was £125. Massereene topped £131 for Rouge, with Texels to £120, Dorsets to £110, Mules to £99, with Blues at £95. In Saintfield, top price was £160, with others making from £122 to £148. In Rathfriland, top was £152.